Celebrating ten years of CiteAb!


Min Read

In this blog:

  • We look back on the big moments for CiteAb over the past decade
  • Find out how we started out as a company
  • What do we have in store?

A decade ago, CiteAb officially spun out as a company from a research project at the University of Bath. 

Today, we take a moment to look back on the journey we’ve been on over the last ten years.

How (and why) did CiteAb start?

Before beginning CiteAb, our CEO and co-founder Andrew Chalmers was a researcher at the University of Bath, leading a group investigating the development and proliferation of epithelial cells.

When planning experiments, his research group came across the same problem countless researchers face: selecting products that worked.

The research reagent market is vast, with over 600 suppliers and more than 6 million antibodies alone. Finding the best product out there is filled with risk; lab budgets, valuable research time and the reproducibility of work may all suffer if the wrong product is bought. 

To solve this problem, Andy and co-founders David Kelly and Adam Pope (with the help of our long term partners Storm Consultancy) created the first version of CiteAb.

Enter CiteAb

What started as a research project, automating the collection of highly accurate product citations so researchers around the world didn’t have to do it individually, has now grown into one of the largest reagent databases in the world. 

Citations enable researchers to evaluate how a product has been used, to help find the right reagent for future experiments.

We have now grown beyond a reagent search engine to offer data services for reagent suppliers, financial companies and biopharma/biotech companies, all powered by this one central citation database. 

The Big Moments

So how have we progressed over the years?

To reflect on this occasion, we’ve looked back on ten big changes or milestones we’ve seen over the past decade.

1. The CiteAb team

Starting as a research project with no full time employees, we have grown to become a team of 14 biologists, computer scientists and business specialists, as well as having a team of scientist reviewers who manually check citations we collect to ensure their accuracy.

‘Our success at CiteAb has depended on the dedication, expertise, care and enthusiasm of our team. A massive thank you to all current and past team members for helping make CiteAb what it is today!’

Andrew Chalmers, CEO

2. The amount of reagent data we’ve collected

In an unexpected success, when we first launched CiteAb we had collected far more data than we had anticipated (or planned for!). 

Our data collection has certainly not slowed, with our development team iteratively improving our AI driven data collection tech. We originally thought we might collect data for 100,000 reagents eventually. In fact, we reached a million reagents by 2013.

We now have data covering 14 million reagents and 6 million citations. 

3. The different reagent types we collect data for

Starting as an antibody search engine, we’ve since grown to collect data on 5 different reagent types, covering:

4. The introduction of published images

In 2019, we expanded our data mining beyond product citations and started to collect published images. We recognised the importance of this data to researchers as visual evidence for how a product has been used in experiments. 

These images are now fed into both our search engine for scientists, and our citation widget (an automated plug-in tool to showcase citations on supplier webpages). 

Myosin Light Chain 2 antibody 10906-1-AP from Proteintech used for Immunocytochemistry in Human. Published in Scientific Reports on 25th September 2018 by A. Gaignerie, N. Lefort et al. under a CC-BY license.
Myosin Light Chain 2 antibody 10906-1-AP from Proteintech used for Immunocytochemistry in Human. Published in Scientific Reports on 25th September 2018 by A. Gaignerie, N. Lefort et al. under a CC-BY license.

5. The number of scientists we help with the search engine

As we have grown over the years, we have remained focused on improving our search engine and trying to help as many scientists as possible with the CiteAb platform.

Our user base has multiplied since we first launched, and we now have over 800k users each year, and 1,000 new users registering each week. Scientists who use our platform have viewed over 28 million pages in the time the site has been live.

Over the past year, we’ve loved speaking with some of our users about their work and how they use CiteAb to help. You can read the full blogs here:

6. The companies we partner with

We are proud to have worked with many of our partners for ten years – right from our launch. 

We now work with 100 reagent suppliers, including both large multinationals and smaller, more specialist companies from across the globe. 

Without the openness and enthusiasm of our partners for the search engine and our data services, CiteAb would not have been able to grow the way it has – so a big thank you for the support! 

You can read more about our data services here.

7. Our partnerships with publishers

We’ve been excited to announce our partnerships with Springer Nature, Wiley and Karger over the last few years.

These partnerships mean we are able to text-mine quality, full-text content, extracting structured reagent data to display on our search engine and in our data products – previously unavailable to researchers.

You can read more here:

8. Our custom partnerships

In recent years, we have also launched some exciting custom partnerships. It has been fantastic to see the variety of ways our data and platform can be harnessed to better support researchers in completely novel ways! 

Our partnership with Fluorofinder, a platform that helps scientists designing flow cytometry panels, enables researchers to easily view citation counts for antibodies they are considering for their experimental setup. 

We have also partnered with JAGGAER, the e-procurement leader, with a custom reagent search engine that integrates with their Research Materials Management platform. This partnership provides a novel solution for scientists, offering support from product selection through to purchasing. You can read more about this here.

9. International Antibody Validation Meetings held

Over the years, we have organised three international antibody validation meetings. This is an event we love being involved in and which we believe is incredibly important for the community, helping to facilitate discussion and drive progress in research antibody validation. We have been thrilled to see real change in this incredibly important field over the last ten years. 

The most recent meeting was held in 2023, and you can see selected talks from the event here.

10. The CiteAb Awards

Each year, we have held the CiteAb Awards to celebrate the (often unmarked) achievements of the research reagent sector. In our time as a company, the awards have recognised over 50 different reagent suppliers from across the globe, as well as highlighting some fascinating research, innovative products, and fantastic community initiatives. 

Now in their tenth year, you can enter on our awards website to get involved!

Looking forward

We’re certainly not running out of ideas for suppliers and researchers we can help. 

Looking ahead, we will continue growing our data, improving our search engine and working with new partners to provide the most value to scientists and help accelerate research progress. 

We have big plans for the search engine, and are looking to collect data for more reagent types – stay tuned for an announcement on this topic later this year.

And we’d love to hear from you! What would you like to see from us over the next ten years? Are there any data or search engine improvements you’d like to see? Get in touch with the team here.

We’d like to end by thanking our partners, users and Storm Consultancy for all the support over the years, without which none of the above would have been possible. 

We’re excited to see what we can achieve together in the next ten years. 

  • The CiteAb team
About the author

Join thousands of people who already enjoy the CiteAb newsletter

To keep up to date with the latest developments to our search engine, news from our life science market data analysis and improvements to our citation provision.