Morressier, a Berlin-based startup that provides publishers with workflows that ensure research integrity, has announced the close of a new investment round at $16.5 million. The company intends to use the capital to bolster go-to-market activities as well as evaluate strategic acquisition opportunities.
Molten Ventures led the round with existing Series A investors Redalpine, Owl Ventures, and Cherry Ventures participating.
Conferences to workflows
Built around the belief that the scientific process should be efficient, trusted, and fair, Morressier (pronounced moʁɛsjˈe) began life as a platform designed for the sharing of offline academic material, namely that presented at conferences.
The shared academic materials could also then be augmented via analytics, providing insight into trends and topics, and the platform topped off with a healthy dose of community fostering, one where researchers were encouraged to follow and discover each other’s work.
This technology became increasingly important during the pandemic, as evidenced by the company’s May 2021 $18 million Series A investment round, with Morressier indicating that the capital would be used for growth and the further refinement and/or launch of community and analytics features.
The truth of the matter
When dealing with the publication of academic materials, those that often serve as the basis for further research and play an integral role in the scientific advancement of society as a whole, the integrity of the work should be a foregone conclusion.
However, a study published by German researchers on May 8, 2023, found that nearly 34 per cent of neuroscience papers published in 2020 were likely fabricated or plagiarised, in medicine, 24 per cent.
While the report has been revised and is yet to be peer-reviewed, the results support evidence that the academic publishing industry is under attack from so-called “paper mills”, or commercial “editing services”.
These AI-supported, paper mills exist solely to sell fabricated scientific manuscripts to students, scientists, and physicians who are under pressure from their academic or government institutions or university-affiliated hospitals.
The age of AI
Acutely aware of the growing problem, on May 20, 2022, nearly a full year before the release of the medRxiv report, Morressier published an FAQ that outlined a new direction for the company, one that was squarely focused on ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the sharing early-stage research. This initiative was further supported one year later with the company's release of its 'Integrity Manager' product.
While the results of medRxiv’s findings are alone enough to sit up and take notice of, bear in mind that the sample data accounts for papers published in 2020, well before OpenAI’s ChatGPT made the world fully aware of what Artificial Intelligence is capable of.
In so much, Morressier co-founder Sami Benchekroun revealed in an exclusive interview with Tech.eu that in the hours, days, and weeks following the launch of ChatGPT, interest in the company, “exploded”.
The platform of verified scientific truth
Benchekroun acknowledges that the Berlin-based startup isn’t the only player on the market working to ensure the validity of published academic research, but that it is the only one that’s gathered all integrity checks under one umbrella.
In addition to a client base that includes IOP Publishing, AAAS, ASCE, APS, and the Mayo Clinic, thanks in part to the new $16.5 million Series B round, Morressier’s next move is to scale operations and progress with product innovation.
When asked about aspirations beyond the realm of academia, Benchekroun says that he’s not willing to rule out the idea completely, but that the goals of Morressier remain, for now, firmly rooted in the field:
“Our goal is to establish the world's platform of verified scientific truth. Let’s get the science right before we start exploring anything else.”
Morressier’s chief growth officer Othman Altalib added:
“Deepening our partnerships across the scholarly publishing industry is core to Morressier’s growth: it ensures that we remain aligned with and supportive of stakeholder needs. This latest investment is going to be of huge benefit to our customers and the broader scholarly publishing community, as we up the ante in the research integrity arms race on their behalf.”
Lead image via Morressier.