Cognilab, an Online Laboratory Platform: WIP of the Week

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Cognilab, founded in Vancouver in late 2013, is a unique work intermediation platform business focused on enabling social science research (such as psychology) through its multifaceted online platform. The company describes its platform as an online laboratory for creating, crowdsourcing and sharing psychology and other social science experiments. By enabling research activities through an online platform, the cost of conducting a research project is significantly reduced.

The company is just emerging out of beta. As such, it will be the first time that we highlight a WIP business at such an early stage. But we do so because of the innovative nature of the platform and because it demonstrates how a platform can bring efficiencies to even highly sophisticated work.

The Cognilab platform has been designed to support behavioral, consumer and market researchers, working in universities and industry. Such research conducted in the traditional manner can be prohibitively costly; for example, laboratory infrastructure must be secured and it can take many months to assemble a population of research subjects. Much of traditional research activity is not enabled and integrated digitally, accounting for further inefficiency and gaps in data management.

According to Cognilab, global spend on research of this sort amounts to $5.7 billion annually, and the company calculated that its platform allows researchers to conduct their projects to build experiments “10x cheaper, 20-30x faster, and source 10–100x more respondents than leading alternatives.”


Cognilab has been seed funded in the amount of $212 million. It is currently launching commercially from a private beta, the participants of which included UCLA, Baylor, McGill and other research universities.

At a high level, Cognilab represents the capabilities of the platform and service offering as follows:


The company notes that its core solution components enable:

  • The design of sophisticated experiments using an intuitive point-and-click interface — without technical or programming knowledge.
  • Access to a pool of more than 600,000 participants from 190 countries, through the integration of Prolific Academic and Mechanical Turk, along with detailed demographics, such as targeting specific demographics and geographic location. The company has stated that it can deliver up to 10,000 participants for any given project.
  • Quick collation of experiment results data. Cognilab actually provides this service and assures that data is accurate and suited for publication.

Single researcher pricing for the use of the Cognilab platform breaks down into an annual license fee of $399 and unit fees for what are called experiment tokens that range from $89 to $119 each, depending on the number purchased at one time. An experiment token apparently opens up access to the platform capabilities, which include Starter Kit, Dashboard, Experiment Design, Publishing, Distribution and Analytics. Pricing for multiple researchers is by quotation. We assume there are additional fees for crowdsourcing of experiment participants


Cognilab is an excellent example of what we think many online work intermediation platforms may be in the future. Not simply performing matching and marketplace functions, platforms of this type will:

  • Address the specific needs of specific users (in this case, social science researchers)
  • Provide a range of specific platform technology capabilities that will enable platform users to accomplish their activities (in this case, conduct research projects)
  • Tap into segmented managed crowds that can provide work or services into the projects (in this case, research experiment participants)
  • Incorporate human services into the management of certain activities on the platform that lead to the expected engagement outputs (in this case, arranging crowdsourcing and performing data management).

Based on the above, and the presence of platform end-to-end data analytics, these platforms promise to deliver benefits in the form of efficiency, cost savings, cycle time, productivity and quality.

To learn more about Cognilab, visit its website at

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