Christoph Fahle
August 13, 2012

Startup of the Week: Science Craft

Brian Cusack and Rick Scavetta are co-founders of Science Craft, Berlin. Science Craft serves the needs of young researchers, research institutes, universities and graduate schools by equipping them with the tools they need to publish their research with impact and by providing high-quality, practical skills training to their students.

Brian Cusack comes from Ireland. He holds a B.Sc. from Imperial College, London, a Master’s degree from Leeds University and a Ph.D. from Trinity College, Dublin. Rick Scavetta, is originally from Toronto, Canada. He completed his B.Sc. at the University of Toronto, his M.Sc. at the University of Calgary, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cologne, Germany. Science Craft uses the co-working space of betahaus since February.

WHAT EXACTLY IS SCIENCE CRAFT AND HOW DID YOU START?

Science Craft was founded in February 2012 to provide training workshops in transferable skills to researchers in the life sciences. Basically, we want to help young researchers to tell the story of their science and understand their research.

Rick and I started to think about offering these services while we were still doing research at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics here in Berlin. We saw that talented PhD students were being held back because they lacked the essential skills in scientific writing, data analysis and visualisation that would complement their excellent research skills. We were surprised that training in these transferable skills was either inadequate or simply not available. So even top-ranking graduate schools had trouble meeting the needs of their students.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO DEVELOP YOUR BUSINESS IN BERLIN, AND TO USE BETAHAUS AS YOUR BASE?

Betahaus offers an inspiring, sociable and supportive working environment. The transition to the business world from life in the lab has been less daunting because Betahaus is like a big ideas lab. So we feel right at home here!

SCIENCE CRAFT OFFERS WORKSHOPS SUCH AS SCIENTIFIC WRITING, PROPOSAL WRITING, DATA ANALYSIS AND DATA VISUALISATION. WHAT IS YOUR AIM, OUT OF THOSE WORKSHOPS AND WHO IS YOUR TARGET GROUP?

Research articles are the main way that scientists communicate with each other and build their career. It is especially important for young researchers to write impactful papers efficiently.

Science Craft's target group includes young researchers in the life sciences. Young researchers often fall into a "mentoring gap" because their supervisors do not have time to teach them essential transferable skills. Science Craft's aim is to fill this mentoring gap through our workshops. Our workshops empower young researchers by giving them the tools to build successful careers in the long-term, regardless of whether they want to stay in research or not.

Our aim is to help young scientists to survive in research by publishing successfully or, even if they leave research, to apply their transferable skills to new working environments.

WHAT ARE YOUR FURTHER PLANS FOR SCIENCE CRAFT?

So far the feedback we're getting from our students has been incredibly positive - so we seem to be on the right track. This feedback is really helpful because we are constantly working on our workshop material. We are very excited to premier two workshops in the Autumn/Winter: Proposal Writing and Data Visualisation. Data Visualisation will teach researchers how to tell the story of their science using the "grammar of graphics". We think this workshop might turn out to be quite unique, at least in Germany.

We also want to help young researchers to publish successfully by offering an editing service for their manuscripts. As native English speaking researchers, we were frequently asked to edit our colleagues' papers and that experience told us that there was quite a need for this kind of service!

MOST OF YOUR WORK IS CONNECTED WITH YOUNG RESEARCHERS AND STUDENTS. HOW YOU ARE DOING BUSINESS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE?

Simply put: We want to inspire and empower students! That means we encourage students to take ownership of their research and communicate it effectively. Writing and data analysis are tools that scientists must be comfortable with, but instead they act as hurdles to overcome. By taking command of these essential tools, young researchers become engaged with their work in a new way.

WHAT KIND OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG RESEARCHERS WHO WISH TO CREATE THEIR OWN CAREER?

PhD students need to be 100% focussed on their science if they want to graduate successfully and pursue a research career in the long term. However, by exclusively focusing on the goal of an academic career they are often blind to alternative career paths. This is a real problem since fewer than 25% of researchers will succeed in reaching that goal.

Regardless of whether young researchers find a career inside or outside research, we think they should play to their strengths and realise that those strengths are also transferable to other career paths. It is important for scientists to realise that there is also a life outside of research. Rick and I see our own career path as demonstrating that fact.

Still wondering about a membership at betahaus? Click here and read more about it!

Working for Lufthansa back in 2002, Joachim (CEO & founder @ Jolocom) had the idea to develop a better system for companies to swap data internally and for people to share their data with companies. Back in 2002, the resistance to open networks and communication was strong. However, just a few years later, social media and blockchain changed the rules of the game, which led to the founding of Jolocom in 2014. (Read the whole story here


Photo by Lea GK

Ellie joined the Jolocom team in the fall last year. She’s part of the content team and is responsible for communications and online platforms maintenance. 

Volker is currently studying IT-Systems Engineering at HPI, working on his master thesis with Jolocom. He joined the software development team in March this year and has previously worked from betahaus for another startup company.

With two locations in the heart of the city, betahaus l Sofia is a home of some of the most successful Bulgarian startups and is one of the leading innovation hubs in Sofia. Their main space is located just two minutes on foot from Sofia University and the second one stands right at the central Slaveykov Sqaure and has a beautiful view over the city.

As all of our locations, its pet and bicycle friendly and offers the same comfy and relaxed atmosphere you've come to expect from betahaus. Identical to our space, betahaus | Sofia uses glass doors for its team rooms, to build transparency and inclusion.

betahaus | Sofia @ Shipka 6

betahaus | Sofia @ Shipka 6

betahaus | Sofia is spread across 1800 q.m. divided into 2 separate spaces. Shipka 6 is 1300qm and takes over the entire 3rd floor of the UBA – Union of the Bulgarian Artists. Slaveykov Square is placed on the roof top of another historical building in Sofia. There they have two balconies with 360 degrees view, a cafe/bar and a shared kitchen.

Membership plans start from 350,– BGN for Workspace and go up to 435,– BGN for Private Offices. Currently, the space has around 190 members and will soon implement also Club Memberships plan. Every member of the Club will have access to events, conference room and betahaus community.

betahaus | Sofia @ Slaveykov Square
betahaus | Sofia @ Slaveykov Square

Ellie: Currently we have around 5 active pilots and we effectively work B2B2C. So we build our application for businesses which have their own user bases.

Volker: One of our ongoing projects is a pilot with Telekom. With their team, and partners from Riddle & Code and Simple Mobility, we have created the Magenta Scooter — an innovation in e-mobility that allows users to ride share while using their decentralized digital IDs. That means users can rent the scooter with our app and our identity. The main advantage there is that you can store your drivers licence in your Jolocom SmartWallet and then share this license with the app of Telekom. This eliminates the long onboarding process of verifying your license. 

Ellie: Another example is our e-government collaboration with The City of Antwerp called Blockchain on the Move. Using the SmartWallet, municipal employees can issue and validate their own credentials and create eIDs for citizens – it’s a digital ID with which you can register at the university or go to a swimming pool, as two examples.

Photo by Lea GK


Want more? Check out betahaus | Hamburg and betahaus | Barcelona.

If you want to know more about how to travel and work from different coworking spaces with one membership, click here.

Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company. 

Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.


Ellie: I know that before joining betahaus Jolocom was in the Ethereum office – a collaborative blockchain space for companies also building on the same platform and the idea was always to stay within a coworking space. When they closed and we had to move, the next closest choice in terms of company culture was betahaus. 

Ellie: The people in the building and the spaces are just really cool. I personally don’t go to community events as much as i would like to but I still end up meeting a lot of people here. Mostly in the kitchen. One of my good friends is actually someone I met in betahaus. 

Volker: I once saw a friend of mine presenting at betabreakfast and I didn’t know that he would be here. It was so funny seeing him on the stage.

Photo by Lea GK

Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.

Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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