Clarivate Analytics has acquired AI start-up Kopernio for an undisclosed sum, with the latter’s co-founders Jan Reichelt and Ben Kaube to join the company.
Reichelt, who also co-founded influential start-up Mendeley, becomes m.d. of Clarivate’s citation index Web of Science. Kaube will be Kopernio m.d. Both will report to Annette Thomas, c.e.o. of Clarivate’s Scientific & Academic Research division. The buy is the latest bold move for Clarivate, which last year acquired peer-review platform Publons, and in February announced it was to re-establish the Institute for Scientific Information.
Kopernio is only a few months old, with a modest 6,500 users amassed through grass-roots marketing and word of mouth. But Thomas thinks it is "game-changing" in its technology and approach. The start-up aims to provide one-click access to academic journal articles, dramatically improving access to scientific knowledge. Working across publishers’ websites and databases, it delivers access to researchers with institutional subscriptions with a one-click "smart link", instead of the five to 15 clicks it typically takes researchers to get to the article they want.
Reichelt explains: "Researchers have to go to various platforms, or databases—it might be publisher webpages, such as Science Direct or Springer-Link, it might be PubMed, or they might go to scholarly social networks or a pre-print server. People are going to different platforms to do research but they don’t get access to the same content on those different platforms: that is what Kopernio is changing and solving.
"It leads to a win-win-win situation: the researcher wins because they get their stuff in one click; the institution wins because it spends millions of dollars on content which Kopernio gets to the researcher; and the publisher wins, because we redirect the downloads via the institutional subscription to the publisher. The technology helps all the stakeholders."
From left Jan Reichelt, Annette Thomas and Ben Kaube
Thomas described the buy as "a strategic investment to acquire and scale a highly complementary business; the combined effect of which will address a major issue in academic research today".
She told The Bookseller Daily: "Despite the rise of Open Access, and despite the fact that more researchers have access to OA than ever before, simply having the right access doesn’t necessarily mean the access is easier. In some cases it’s even more difficult. Kopernio addresses that; it’s a novel approach, a technological approach, and I think it’s a game-changer. Its greatest impact will be by acting across the research ecosystem in a publisher-neutral fashion. With its reach and its data, Clarivate gives Kopernio the power to move forward—and quickly. I saw the opportunity, and Ben and Jan saw the opportunity, that by coming together we could do a lot of further work more quickly.”
Thomas said the fact that Reichelt and Kaube were joining Clarivate was an important aspect of the deal. "Kopernio is extremely powerful for research and the entire research ecosystem. Jan joining our team is equally powerful. This agreement is as much about his track record and profile within the industry." She described Reichelt and Kaube as "key members of the executive team".
Thomas, who took up her c.e.o. role at Clarivate’s Scientific & Academic Research division in August 2017, said Clarivate had burst back onto the scene in the past year. "We are very bold, we are very entrepreneurial. We definitely have a vision of the problems that we are trying to solve for the research community," she said.
As well as organic growth, "I can imagine that there will be other [acquisitions]", she said, adding: "We have quite a long view. We are looking at several years to solve these problems in a really compelling way, so we have time on our side, investment on our side, and we have the full support of our board. We can move quickly and we are publisher-neutral; we’re really independent within this space. I think that’s highly attractive to talented people, which puts us in the position to deliver on the ambitions we have."