Subscribe to our newsletter

Digital Science Reveals Catalyst Grant Winners

7th September 2016
 | Katy Alexander

Etalia, Simiary and Writefull, three companies aiming to disrupt the academic space, are the latest recipients of the Catalyst Grant award for innovative startups

Catalyst Grant from Digital Science
Today we are pleased to announce the latest winners of our prestigious Catalyst Grant award. The Catalyst Grant is an international initiative to support the innovation of new software tools and technologies for research. The program supports and invests in early stage ideas in the novel use of information technology in research, with an award of up to $25,000 for the most promising ideas to aid science and further education research.

  • Etalia: San Fransisco, USA:
    • A platform that offers recommendations for papers and people based on a unique fingerprint generated from a researcher’s reference library.
  • Simiary: Auckland, New Zealand:
    • A software solution which boosts content discovery via intelligent search.
  • Writefull: Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
    • An online software application which provides editing and authoring guidance to  enhance academic writing.

Steve Scott, Director of Portfolio Development at Digital Science says of the news:

“This year’s decision has been our toughest yet, with a field of over 40 entries to consider from across the globe. However, our three winners each offered something unique and conveyed real vision so that, in the end we arrived at a unanimous vote. Each of the winners reflect the Digital Science goal of giving the international research community better tools to help them in their important work. We’re proud to have an opportunity to help grow these innovative businesses.”


San Francisco based Etalia, is building a powerful cloud-based scholarly communications platform that empowers personalized literature searches and scholarly dialogues. Traditionally, scholars have limited resources to find relevant literature and to reach out beyond their peers and small ­networks of colleagues – often valuable intellectual input may be missed. Etalia have developed a unique digital platform that aims to make this process more efficient.

Etalia was founded by Norbert Schuff, a medical physicist and professor of radiology in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California. The team will use the Catalyst Grant money to drive forward the growth of their platform, currently in beta stage.

Norbert Schuff, Founder of Etalia said:

“Etalia is honored to receive the Digital Science Catalyst Grant. This funding will allow us to extend our platform with more content-based communication features for scholars.”etalia


Founded by Ben Adams and Richard Hosking whilst at the University of Auckland, Simiary is a software company that wants to improve content discovery by offering intelligent exploratory search and analysis software.

The majority of scientific knowledge consists of unstructured data built for human consumption, in the form of publications, data abstracts, reports, grant submissions, blog posts, and even email mailing lists. Yet, the massive scale at which this data is generated limits what can be learnt from it. The organization of scientific knowledge has not moved with modern times so  finding and understanding of relevant information from this boundless content is a  problem that current tools are not equipped to manage. Simiary’s unique software automatically ingests and resolves these diverse types of unstructured data and thematically contextualizes the related content. This allows their users to discover relevant information quicker, form connections, and make new insights.

Early examples of Simiary’s capabilities can be found at Frankenplace, an interactive thematic map search engine that uses geographic context as a means to discover, organise, and interactively visualise documents related to a search query.


The Catalyst Grant will be used to continue software development and to develop working relationships with early adopters, service owners, and end-­user groups.

Ben Adams Co-founder, Simiary said:

“We are thrilled to be awarded the Catalyst Grant from Digital Science, especially as the competition attracted lots of strong applicants. This additional support, which you don’t get from traditional funding sources, makes the Digital Science Catalyst Grant an ideal partner.”


Writefull is an application that helps researchers and academics improve their writing, providing them with feedback and corrections.

Founded by Juan Castro (PhD in Artificial Intelligence) and Alberto Villar (MsC in Machine Learning), Writefull promises to help users write with more confidence by allowing them to check words and phrases against databases of correct language, such as Google Scholar and Google Books. Using Natural Language Processing to extract patterns in written language, they offer accurate grammar corrections and sentence replacements specific to academic writing.

Writing strong academic texts is challenging, particularly for non­-native speakers of English who make up the majority of researchers worldwide. A great deal of time can often be lost on editing and checking writing. Writefull, speeds up this process allowing researchers to work more efficiently.

Writefull can be used in a researcher’s own working environment, as it operates in any writing tool such as Overleaf, Microsoft Word and Gmail.

The team plans to use the Catalyst Grant to offer feedback tailored to the writing conventions of various academic disciplines. This way, researchers will get writing help that is fitted to their own field of study, e.g. medicine or law.


Juan Castro, Co-founder of Writefull said:

“We are pleased to have been offered a Digital Science Catalyst Grant. Writefull is already helping thousands of researchers every day, but we do have clear ideas on how to improve the app. Throughout the development, we have kept in touch with researchers in different fields. This has taught us what they really need from a writing app. We’re happy that with this grant we will be able to use their feedback to bring Writefull to the next level.”

You can learn more about The Catalyst Grant here.