Penelope wins latest Digital Science Catalyst Grant

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Digital Science has awarded a ‘Catalyst Grant’ to Penelope, an 'automated manuscript scrutiniser' that ensures the drafts that authors submit to their publishers are perfect.

The Catalyst Grant Program helps incubator companies or individuals with an innovative idea to support scientific research to develop their initiative, by awarding a monetary grant. Apart from the financial backing, Digital Science will provide a home for Penelope’s staff at its base in London’s King’s Cross and the expertise needed to bring the product to market.

The program, founded and run by Digital Science, a business division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Group and a leading technology incubator focused on jumpstarting innovation in the research community, aims to support and invest in early stage, innovative scientific software ideas with an award of up to £15,000 each to the most promising ideas for novel uses of information technology in science. It has awarded more than £65,000 in grants to date.

Digital Science decided to award two grants this year, the second to be announced later this month.

Penelope’s aim is to improve scientific research by providing a commercially viable way for journals to enforce good scientific practice and adhere to mandates set by funders. The automated tool screens manuscripts for common reporting errors and helps researchers improve their work before submitting it to a journal. It suggests improvements, tells authors why they are important and shares links to further resources.

Former neuroscientist and Penelope founder James Harwood (pictured) has also picked up an Outstanding Achievement Award from the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills this year. He is also a member of the highly regarded Sirius development programme for graduate entrepreneurs.

Harwood said: 'We are proud to be awarded the Catalyst Grant from Digital Science, especially as the competition attracted lots of really impressive applicants. The money will allow us to pilot Penelope with a handful of early adopters. The expertise and experience that Digital Science brings is equally important, and will really help us grow in the long term. This additional support, which you don’t get from traditional funding sources, makes Digital Science a unique and ideal partner for us.'

Steve Scott, director of research tools at Digital Science added: 'This year’s decision was our toughest yet, with a field of over 30 entries to consider. However, Penelope stood out and in the end we arrived at a unanimous vote. We're proud to have an opportunity to help grow the business, now and in the future.'