Mar 042012

Guest Post

Insights from United Academics

The new internet start-up boom arises into science-based organizations such as social networking sites and content sharing platforms. The old dream of connecting science and society finds a solution in internet and its endless possibilities. Still, it is important to think first and come up with a plan in order not to waste money, time and effort.

First we have to focus on the development of a business plan, because, as a matter or fact, eventually we will need investors and clients. If we want to create something good we will need professionals, equipment and space, thus, money has to be first on our priority list. However, we do not just focus on commercial activities, so we should include our social mission into our business plan too.

At this stage a very specific human resources plan has to be developed. As part of our strategy we need to decide which professionals we need to achieve our goals. Building a successful start-up is not as easy as finding a bunch of geeks, buying some cheap Acer computers and let them go with the flow. The ideal candidate is an all-round computer science professional, has expertise in information and communication technologies, electronic business development and is blessed with a creative mind. In short: a very difficult jigsaw puzzle.  

Once we’ve set up the business, it’s time to think about how we can make the dream come true. In our case, at United Academics, we opted for developing a series of e-services to bring academics and non-academics together; even though we knew it would take time to create a deep and meaningful connection. We believe that disseminating a better scientific culture might help us to create awareness and interest among people. These days people are very interested in popular stories and folklore and less into science. But when a magazine or newspaper features a sensationalist scandal story related to research activities such as genetics, health or medicine, they cannot get enough of it.

In those cases, we need  basic scientific literacy to discern between what is real and what is meaningless propaganda. Not just to have a better understanding of the life and natural sciences but to also to comprehend many aspects of our daily lives such as politics, sociology, environment, economics and so on. 

Our aim of developing high-impact knowledge dissemination solutions has forced us to define what the real gap between science and society is,  and what our responsibilities are as an innovative publishing house. We came to the insight that our magazine should be easy-to-dissect science, while our Journal of Social Sciences features more in-depth research. In addition, the blog needs to reflect daily conversations and science news and is meant to experiment with new topics and open discussions.

Louis Lapidaire, UA’s Founder, always reminds us that besides having a sustainable plan for the business, we should not forget that we are here to build a system of knowledge management and dissemination. And this is what we are working on, while learning by doing; the development of new projects and on our big dream: the social publishing platform that hopefully will be launched as alpha version at the end of this year. Meanwhile, we are getting into the business mind set and try to keep up the good work, even tough sometimes it is difficult to see what the results of our efforts will be.

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