[Interview] Julien Thérier from Shazino ” The economic model of Open Science will not rely on paywalls but on data management “

During Open experiment #4, we asked some questions to Julien Thérier, founder of Shazino. This start-up develops innovative applications facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration between scientists. Shazino is a part of the “Science 2.0” start-ups wave, that is offering digital working tools for researchers (scientific social network, reference management). This start-up also fits into the Open Science movement. Indeed, the applications developed by Shazino have a vocation to facilitate knowledge sharing but also a greater and large-scale collaboration between researchers.

What is Shazino’s business model ?


Shazino proposes various applications: three are free and  designed for  biotechnologies (colony counter, a plasmides manager and a laboratory “timer”) and two main applications which the income relies upon.

We bet on the first three applications to get known and then communicated on Papership and Hivebench that are our two main projects. Both are freemiums, meaning that part of the functionalities are free of charge.

Papership, is an iPhone / iPad application which can be added to a free reference management tools such as Zotero and Mendeley. For example, it facilitates the exchange of articles via SMS or email which are not open access without breaking the law. We try to help scientists not to mess up with their articles, like deposing it on a site without having the rights to do so. It is a way for us to change these barriers.

With Hivebench, our goal is to highlight Open Science. The platform is an online laboratory notebook. The Open Science version is free of charge. Then everything takes place online, in the cloud. We push, in a informal way, the users to open their research online for the benefit of other communities. For that purpose, HiveBench is connected to other Open Science platforms such as FIgshare, PeerJ, ELife and F1000. We also created an open protocols database.

If users wish to install Hivebench on their own server and add an intellectual property, then they have to pay. Thus, it mostly concerns laboratories and universities. It goes with the idea to offset the loss of opening and accessibility with a fee.

What about this question of opening ? What is it focused on and what are the limits ?


For me, we cannot make Open Science if we don’t endorse this approach ourselves. It is a question of ethics.

So we decided to share a part of our projects in open source. Unfortunately without having much benefit in return because researchers do not apprehend this concept easily.

In my opinion this situation leads to aberrations such as the scientific social network ResearchGate. Their model is closed but it advocates on the other hand for articles sharing between scientists. In Open source communities this situation would be impossible. But researchers often only look for a website’s design and its easy handling without really considering the ethics or its absence involved in its background.

And why only a part of the code is open source ?

As we address communities which are not sensitive to this Open Source approach, if we opened everything, other companies would take the code without giving anything in return.

I see Open Science in the same situation than Open Source 20 years ago.

The leading actors of the research market, like editors, are wondering about this model and do not really understand it. They see too much risk in it.

They prefer to opt for Open Innovation. Meaning they create a consortium from 4 to 5 big actors, each of them collaborating in a stage of the value chain.

What are the stakes that you perceive in the Open Science field ?

In biology and biotechnologies where Shazino becomes integrated, numerous start-ups developed in Open Science. Figshare, Authorea etc… The stakes here are mostly in big data and its management.


Scientific editors, such as Elsevier Nature Publishing group understood these stakes as well. They begin to buy start-ups or else create partnerships.


According to me, we shall not dethrone these big editors. On the other hand, the evolution will be that the economic model of Open Science will not rely on paywalls but on data management.

For Open Science, a major issue is rewarding researcher on these new practices of sharing. Today, this development of the ” Open ” work is missing. The researcher is not supported enough. We observe for example that postdocs are the ones who share the least. Why ? Because being a postdoc implies a great competitiveness to get a job. Sharing your own data is not a criterion of evaluation in this selection.

However, European financing projects of Horizon 2020 in favour of Open Access and Open Data is always a first step !

To pursue the discussion about Open Science, participate in Open Experience #4 on June 17th.


Article written by Celya Gruson-Daniel and translated by Matthieu

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