Imperial College London

‘Spotify of research papers’ acquired by Clarivate Analytics


Students working in the library

Students working in the library

Kopernio, the latest startup founded by Imperial alumnus and tech entrepreneur Ben Kaube, has been bought by Clarivate Analytics.

The AI powered tool provides easy access to millions of journal articles across the world with just one-click through a free browser plugin, solving a key issue facing researchers.

Imperial is a fantastic place to be an entrepreneur. Ben Kaube Co-founder of Kopernio

Accessing research papers can be a frustrating process for academics, even if they have the required subscriptions. Researchers have to manage many logins and passwords, and navigate an array of different publisher’s platforms before they can find a downloadable version of the paper they need. Some turn to pirating sites to access papers simply to avoid this rigmarole.

Kopernio automatically detects what individual or institutional subscriptions a user already has and sources the most appropriate paper for them instantly. It will also suggest free, alternative legal versions of the content that might already exist on open-access platforms if users don’t have the subscriptions to access papers behind a paywall.

Effective solutions

Ben co-founded Kopernio in 2017. Clarivate Analytics said it will incorporate the tool into its Web of Science tool, used by more than 7.500 institutions globally. Ben will join Clarivate Analytics as Managing Director of Kopernio. 

Ben Kaube
Ben Kaube

Ben explained: “The idea for Kopernio came to me while I was writing up my PhD. I had Spotify open in one tab on my computer, but I needed about forty tabs to access all the papers I was reading. It is such a waste of time, and really frustrating. I started thinking about how much more convenient it would be if there was a Spotify-like experience for research papers, so that you could access all the papers you needed with a single click.

“Kopernio does just that. It avoids the need to scour separate publisher websites and databases or remember lots of different passwords. It takes all the hassle out of searching for papers, and means academics can spend more time focusing on their research.”

Ben also founded two other businesses while a student Imperial. Newsflo, a media monitoring service to help academics measure the societal impact of their research, was acquired by academic publishing giant Elsevier in 2015. Ben also launched an app called TrainTrick while he was a student, to help passengers claim compensation for delayed rail journeys.

He added: “Contrary to what many people think, being an entrepreneur is pretty unglamorous much of the time. It’s a lot of hard work. I think you have to really be passionate about the problem you are trying to solve, and believe in your business."

“I take great satisfaction from finding simple solutions to problems. All of my businesses have been driven by the motivation to find a better or more efficient way of doing things.”

Imperial ties

Ben spent 9 years in the Department of Physics at Imperial as both an undergraduate and postgraduate student. He is set to graduate in this May’s Postgraduate Graduation Ceremonies.

Ben said: “Imperial is a fantastic place to be an entrepreneur. I’ve been at the College for almost a decade, so I’ve seen the enterprising culture here grow enormously. The infrastructure that the College has to support entrepreneurs - such as the Venture Catalyst Challenge and the Enterprise Lab - is fantastic but equally the networks you have access to at Imperial are indispensable.

"There are people here who have done it all, so when you’re founding a business and don’t know where to start, there’s always someone to guide you."

Annette Thomas, CEO, Scientific & Academic Research division at Clarivate, said: "This is a strategic investment to acquire and scale a highly complementary business; the combined effect of which will address a major issue in scientific and academic research today.

"The scale, reach and unique citation network of Web of Science, the world's most trusted and extensive publisher-neutral citation index and research analysis platform, combined with Kopernio's researcher-facing product, will allow us to significantly increase access to research articles and provide novel solutions to the problems in research across the ecosystem “


Deborah Evanson

Deborah Evanson
Communications and Public Affairs

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