The scientific and academic research tool Mendeley has announced a contest aimed at encouraging developers to build apps on top of Mendeley's open database. That database includes over 70 million research papers, usage statistics, reader demographics, social tags and related research recommendations. The winning app will receive a grand prize of $10,001.

Describing itself as a Last.fm of sorts for academic research, Mendeley isn't simply a bibliographic management tool as it is able to glean information from aggregated data to help track trending research topics.

Mendeley launched its API last year, and a number of apps have been created already, such as Twendeley, a Twitter-Mendeley mashup. Mendeley's "API Binary Battle" now incentivizes developers to build even more.

"The irony of the Internet is that scientists created it, yet it has been underutilized in strengthening the academic community online. A "Facebook for science data? has never been achieved," says Mendeley Chief Scientist Dr. Jason Hoyt. "With tools like the Mendeley API platform, developers can bring academia back to the center of the Internet."

The judging panel includes O'Reilly Media's CEO Tim O'Reilly and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. The deadline for submissions is August 31.