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Freelancing and Startups in Chemoinformatics

In the Internet world, it seems that if you are not an entrepreneur or you do not develop cool Web 2.0 apps you are a nobody. There are lots of people that make a living from and inside the Internet, maybe freelance designers, web developers, full time bloggers, or even ebook writers. You have the people from 37signals, or Seth Godin, or Colin Wright (the last addition to my RSS feed).

But what is happening with science, researchers, PhDs, etc? Where are the startups in chemoinformatics and the guru bloggers? You have Metamolecular, from blogger and entrepreneur Rich Apodaca. Freelancer John Van DrieEgon should also be mentioned as an hyperactive blogger and open source developer, as well as Rajarshi. Another example of an alternative career after a PhD in chemoinformatics could be Jeroen Kazius, who extended his substructure mining tools and created a company called Curios-IT in order to keep working in science in the way that fitted his lifestyle.

It might seem that scientist are on good track for the new Internet era. But I do not think so. If you google for “chemoinformatics or bioinformatics freelance” you do not get many results. The same happens for searches related to startups in these fields. There might be many factors influencing this reality:

  • Universities and companies are not used to externalize and outsorce part of their research.
  • There is quite some secrecy about projects, due to IP protection.
  • Prejudice, a freelancer might be seen as somebody who did not manage to get a career in academy.
  • Chemo/bioinformaticians, as it happens as well with biostatisticians, depend(many times) on the data generated by some other people. Well, provided that you want to make research with a certain impact you need real life experimental data, unless you are happy providing yet another mashup of fingerprints for QSAR.
  • Archaic and rigid systems still applied in science, such as the “publish or perish” approach to validate and promote your research, the PhD->postdoc(1,2,3…)-> tenure track-> assistant professor set path and the fact that choosing between industry and academia is a choice for life.

In ideal world, people like me would like to feel the freedom to experiment, not only with natural phenomena or hypothesis, but also with his own career, ideas, and personal challenges.Interested in becoming a Scientist 2.0? Then visit my blog

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