For any young tech company (we just celebrated our 5th birthday!) the pace of growth is rapid. With Digital Science’s unique structure – collaboration between a supportive central team and a set of dynamic portfolio companies – the rate at which we seem to change can sometimes be dizzying. So, it’s unsurprising to learn that 2015 has seen Digital Science evolve faster than in any previous year.

For me, the change this year in Digital Science was mirrored in a profoundly personal way when, in July, I was invited to take on the role of Managing Director. As I’ve said to others recently, having worked closely with my predecessor, Timo Hannay, for many years, being asked to take over from this leadership was a mix of excitement and trepidation somewhat akin to the feeling you have if you’ve ever been given the keys to the beloved sports car of a friend or relative.Many of our notable achievements relate directly to helping researchers and those who support them to be more recognised for what they do, more efficient at what they do, and to be more innovative or more open. So, although a little indulgent, I hope you won’t mind this post looking back on some of the “good bits” of 2015.

This year has seen greater recognition of our consultancy team led by Jonathan Adams, who produced a series of insightful and illuminating analyses and visualisations. These include: two Digital Research Reports; the delivery of the REF impact case studies database for HEFCE and the associated collaboration with the Policy Institute at Kings College London over the analysis of these data; and, an interactive collaboration network and comment piece produced with colleagues at our sister company SpringerNature for the Nature Index.

One of the most significant innovations from Digital Science in 2015 has been GRID, our Global Research Identifier Database, which we launched in October. “Open” is important at Digital Science and so we were pleased to be able to make the core GRID dataset available openly on Figshare under a CC-BY licence. Originally, built in-house to support our portfolio companies and internal requirements, GRID contains 50,000 institutional names that are all derived from public lists and publicly funded grants in an automated manner with manual curation to provide a high-quality dataset. GRID includes unique, persistent identifiers and geo-location information across 212 countries. The database can be used to clean up or merge different datasets and allows the technically minded to do some really cool visualisations of data such as the Global Institutional Collaboration Network, generated from PLOS ONE data, which you can see below.


Across Digital Science and the portfolio, we attended more than 50 conferences on 5 continents. We hosted 20 of our own events including Digital Science Showcases in Melbourne, Wellington, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and London as well as  our regular Spotlight events, Ada Lovelace Day, OpenCon Satellite events, Symplectic’s ever popular conferences in London, Melbourne and Boston; Altmetric’s 2AM conference and Figshare’s inaugural Figshare Fest. Look out for a chance to see us in 2016 – we always want to hear about new challenges and new ways to help you.

Our Catalyst Grant programme has continued to grow and we received a record number of innovative submissions in 2015! This presented us with the difficult but exciting task of selecting the winners. We are proud to have awarded Catalyst Grants to both TetraScience and Ada Lovelace Day. I am confident that we will see great things from them as they continue to develop.

Highlights from across our portfolio

At the heart of Digital Science are the portfolio companies and it would be remiss to look back at 2015 and not to highlight some of the product enhancements, collaborations and successes from their perspectives:

On top of all this Martin Szomzor, our Head of Data Science, Mark Hahnel, founder of Figshare and Euan Adie, founder of Altmetric, were all named in Information Age’s list of 2015’s top data leaders and influencers.

Here’s to all of the teams and portfolio companies at Digital Science and wishing the best to all of you for 2016!