Episode 21: Science Says with Beatrice Zatorska
WIF Episode 21 - Science Says
Today's episode is a little different instead of focusing on a particular. We've decided to have a guest speaker in because there's a platform that's used by food scientists to speak directly to other food scientists, as well as the general public and that resources science says. And today we're here with the CEO and co-founder of Science Says.
Beatrice Zatorska. So hi, Beatrice. Welcome to the show.
Thank you Zachary, for inviting me. I'm delighted.
Yeah, you're welcome. We're glad to have you here. Where are you joining us from today?
I am in Oxford, in beautiful England in the hometown of Harry Potter and Astrazeneca vaccination and as well, the wonderful university.
Well, thank you for being here. One of the reasons I wanted to have you on the show is that, you know, one of the goals of the Water In Food Podcast is just to advise food professionals and, and reach out and share success stories with other scientists so that they can also be successful. And when I came across Science Says, I realized that your mission is very similar.
And maybe you could, you start by telling our listeners about Science Says.
Science says is a science communication platform, curating plain English facts from the latest research on food and nutrition from around the world. And we are also building a community of verified experts around it. Although we are a UK based company, the vast majority of people on other platforms, especially the users who are industry professionals and the general public actually come from the U S.
Scientists who are the content creators on our platforms come from everywhere. Also a lot of them come from, from the us or the UK and us. We do share a lot. And I think both countries are lead quite a lot in terms of the open research and sharing knowledge. We are very, very passionate at science, says about unleashing science and provide reliable evidence-based facts, what's industry professional and the general public.
Like I said, Jay scientists and the content creators sharing facts in plain English, easy to understand and, you know, fun formats known to everyone from other. Social media platforms like blogs, videos, podcasts bite-size post and. People can also ask questions directly to our experts via direct messaging, a live Q and A's on forums.
And and we fairly reward scientists for the work because 80% of the revenues we generate go directly to scientists.
And how did you cultivate this passion for science communication? Is, is this something that you've always been passionate about or did something specific happen? Why, why is this your, your target or your goal to be able to share scientific information in this way?
I think both I've been management consultant, commercializing scientific research predominantly for about 20 years and I truly. Work around the world from in Asia, United States a lot, and everybody knew Europe Africa and so on. And I've seen over and over, no matter where you are in the world, how much west stays in academia, how much scientific research or Bankwest?
Because I work on the industry side, we struggled so much finding the right. I mean know real answers to real world problems, less than 2% of current technologies in the world comes from scientific research. I mean, that's just crazy. That's ridiculous. Of course. Loads of it cannot be commercialized yet, but 2% that's so little.
And I've seen over and over so much of the research papers, which we have 165 million right now as just eating the dust. And about three years ago I wasn't a long, long projects, but many months in California. Working with a big micro electronic company. And we really have for about eight months stuck on a problem.
And finally, I got in touch with a scientist, about few years before that who was in Russia, he was 80 years old, Russian scientists. He for decades, he was working on some research. Nobody listened to him. Eventually he was just ignored. And I thought, oh, I'm going to give a no, it's a long shot. But we brought him to California.
People listened to him and gave him a lab, build a team around him and eventually. His science saved us company billions and saved thousands of jobs. For me this was the moment of thinking, you know, this is it. I've seen this so many times. And this moment for me was, wow, I'm going to dedicate the rest of my life just to unleashing that science. And the timing I think is great as well.
You know, because we've seen for the past two years, especially during COVID how much we do. And that's science to solve the problems. So that's why I, I have started previously a company smart tripe, and then we turned into science, says together with my co-founder Chris, Jack
in sciences is primarily focusing on food science.
Is that correct? And why did you decide to focus on food science and not environmental science or, or something?
We have decided to focus on food science first because we do eventually want to scale to other topics. It was evidence-based business decision. For the past two years we actually had a different platform called Smart Tribe and we built this was networking platform between academics and industry professional.
So we were curating a one-to-one meetings between people People could pick brain of scientists and solve their problems and so on. It was really great and it was amazing because within one year the platform grew to 20,000 people from around the world. And 50% were scientists, 50% of our industry professionals.
And each time when we, and we outreach, especially to industry, and we said, Hey, do you want to talk to scientists? And every single person say, yeah, of course I want who wouldn't. They were overwhelmed as they can talk to them directly. And for months and months, we have seen the big, the highest demand for food scientists.
So is it, and this was really interesting because, you know, during COVID we thought immunization, vaccination, oldest life science topics are going to be the hot one, especially 60% of the scientists previous platform where in life science. But no, food science was the most topic in demand. So we, we kind of follow that lead you know, numbers, numbers speak for itself.
There is massive demand for food science. For the, for the evidence coming from food science, and we realize how complex it is, how the topic it is, it's a relatively new science. And and it's, so the complexity of it, I think the industry people in general really struggling, it's not anymore how to, you know, produce Nicely, you know tastey to chip the complexity involves safety, packaging, labeling, sustainability, development, plant-based.
It's amazing, such a complex topic. So we decided that food science is our going to be our first focus.
Yeah. And I've noticed myself, even that I think in general, food sciences is getting more focus. And I'm working on a project now where I'm reaching out to all the different food science universities here in the United States.
And even that number, I could find 35 or 40 different programs here in the states. And I think that continues to grow. So this topic. You know, it is very important and we're going to need food scientists, especially here in the, in the next decades with climate change and all these different things that are going to make
bringing food to the table, even more difficult. So I'm happy to hear that you're starting with food science and I'm wondering, how do you pick the topics? You know, there's so many different aspects to food science, so many different products you could be focusing on regulations or packaging or so on.
So how do you focus? What topics to include on your page? Or is it, is it pretty open? If I want to post something about a specific topic, do you have different categories that I can make that post and it'll fall under? How, how does that system work?
Open to the topics. And in fact, we are developing something super, super interesting.
Additionally to our scientist posts, we have developed an engine. My co-founder Chris, he's got a PhD in computer science and I'm very fortunate to work with one of the talented data scientists in the country. And based on the conversation, thousands of conversation between industry and scientists.
We have developed a AI kind of technology, which is a little bit working like a translator between scientific research and industry applications. So very soon, you'll be able to kind of use our search engine and kind of ask questions, giving you suggestions. What is, what is the latest coming from the scientific research, but already with application for industry, which is going to be super neat so that we are quite fairly open to the, to the topics in general.
None of us was a food scientist in the industry. So we didn't know. We pretty much follow the guidance of our first scientists on the platform, on the content creators and the topics where right now we are focusing in, in which wellbeing, nutrition, sustainability, food packaging, waste, and, so on are topics which our current scientists are passionate about.
And how are you finding scientists? How do you get people to participate on your platform?
We are we'll network in the, there was a scientistic word. Chris used to work as a chief data scientist for Elsevier. And I work with scientists all my life. So it, it, we had already planned many of them in our network.
So some of them came with us from the previous platforms, Smart Tribe. We also outreach to new one and every single one we outreached,they were super excited to join us. We we are very open to, for more people to join. However, I think we are holding back right now to really go on a big scale because we want to fine tune the product and our offering before we really go.
But we have already great great content creators. So we do not have problems with asking you, you know, scientists to join because they are.... it's not about money for the them. It's about the recognition. They like to be part of this, you know? Any scientist you ask, everyone loves to share knowledge everyone like the open science, right?
They're also sharing our mission of unleashing that science. And they do want to contact with the industry. And also they find Science Says is a safe place for them. You know, many other platforms, Twitter, Facebook, and so on scientists sometimes receive a lot of harassment. So with us,they feel very safe.
Yeah. I think it's such a great resource. You know, as a scientist, myself, I've done research projects or done things in the past that, you know, I wish I could share, you know, I found something or something noteworthy that I know would help another food scientist, but there aren't very many platforms where you can post safely and have people take it seriously and maybe someone else can benefit from it.
So I, I think this resource is great. It's definitely something that whether you're a graduate student or a senior researcher I, can see it being really useful. I'm wondering, how do you check the facts that are posted? Do you qualify the work that's submitted and what's that review process look like?
I've read it's it's not possible to review every single post, but we do have a ground rule, which every single post, no matter how small it is or what content it is, it has to have a link to a research paper. It has to have the link to the evidence.
And w is there any cost to participating? So if I want to join today, I want to post something.
I have a research paper to back it up. Is there any cost to, to being on site?
For scientists, there's no cost. On the contrary, scientists are being thoroughly, financially rewarded. So 80% of the revenues goes to scientists. We, we do encourage industry professionals and general public to pay small fees for access to the platform.
But for scientists on the contrary, they get them to get, they are getting paid, which is probably quite unusual in the, in the world was the science publishing in general, in science communication. What, you know, we're where you do not ever being paid. But, like I said, it's not about, you know, the payment itself is just the fact that you, that this is fair and they're being rewarded.
I think it's really speak to that. And also, sorry. And also additionally, to to be rewarded, we build community of those experts. So we just don't leave them just like that. Some of them already are great science communicator. Communicators. And they have many followers on Twitter or Instagram, but some of them are not.
And for them it's something new, and they feel amazing and overwhelmed that they have their own space somewhere where they can communicate in a fun way, which everybody else could see they are working on. But also what's that doing? We often say to our content creators, don't treat this as extra work.
You know, loads of every research is doing background research. So just get into habit of whatever you store on your computer. Just put very quick on Science Says, share your thoughts. You know, we always, when you read a research paper, you have something to think about. You talk to your colleagues, you talk to even family.
So just, just put it down in on the Science Says. Share it with everybody else. And we, we create the community around our, our scientists and support them, kind of even protect them, making sure they are always well treated on the platform. Giving them a lot of advice and support, marketing advice, and support, doing promotions giving them
advice how to write in a understandable way given just in general advice also how to speak to industry people and so on. So they, they kind of become kind of, not as strangers, but almost a friends.
Yeah, you're definitely building a community. And I think there's so many advantages to that.
For example, I was looking at science says, and you have everything laid out by topic. And so if I need to connect with the scientists working on a shelf, life study, or a scientist who knows all about jerky or a specific product or process. It makes it really easy for me to, to find somebody and then network and see the type of research they've done and then reach out to them and, and learn something new myself.
So I do think this is a powerful. And again, this is a big reason for having you on the show. That's something that we are trying to accomplish with Water In Food is just helping to build a community and helping it, make it easier for scientists to learn something new and, and maybe connect with somebody who can help them solve a problem that they're working.
What is next for Science Says? It, it sounds like you're just trying to kind of work everything out now, but before getting even larger, but what's that plan look like, and what's your next step going into the next year?.
Next year it's going to be all about food science. I don't think we're going not to scale it to other topics yet.
Maybe a little bit more life science, but food science. We will say definitely in our focus, we will probably dive in even more. We are working on just making the platform better easier to use. Right now we are gonna to implement our search engine. We are working on this behind the scenes is not there yet, but we would like to add to it another powerful tool which we want to add.
And this is prompted by our users, by both industry people that 90% of them told us. They do want to speak to each other, which was very interesting. So we can let, to add the functionalities where, you know, you have research posts and people can actually comment on it and see other people commenting.
That's I find a super powerful I've seen in industry so many times, the re-inventing the wheel. So much money is being spent on R and D in companies, and they are doing this. They are solving pretty much the same problems over and over again. And here they can actually see somebody was working on this with also, we see what is really trending.
Really in food science, because people are asking the similar questions or we can see what are the most common questions being asked about a scientist. So the fact that I can see more and more the power of our platform, giving them a truly reliable source of information, because when you are working for companies and you asking for different trends on facts, you know, and other people telling you something, having usually agenda why they are telling you, and this is why I love science is just fact.
This is it. It's unemotional. It is unbiased. And and probably we will develop more and more tools for people to, to, to use as much easier and quicker. And also we work very closely with everyone who is using our platform, both with the scientists and industry people and even general public. Just to let us know, you know, how you using it what else you need it?
But the, the, the fast feedback we have, they find it super useful. Did they have a place where they can trust the and what we've noticed also to have very specific questions. So I've gone to make it easier for them to find some answers in science.
And I agree with you completely. I work with a lot of R and D teams, primarily R and D teams.
And I see this all the time, always trying to reinvent the wheel. And I think by having this platform and building a network and community. You know, scientists love solving problems and if they can connect and solve that problem even faster, a lot of these problems have already been solved or are already been fixed and figured out at a, another company.
Or by another research project. So I think this is great, and I think it's going to help, you know, our R and D teams across the board or across the world to accomplish and make safer, higher quality products faster. So if there's a scientist listening right now to this podcast and they would like to participate either just to, to learn more or even create their first post, how can they do that?
Please do reach out to us to me through the platform or linking to us, just reach out and we'll be very happy to to help them out if they would like to be part of our platform. 100%.
Well great. Well, I just want to thank you so much for your time, Beatrice. I'm glad we were able to connect on LinkedIn and get this podcast recorded.
I'm really excited to see where your platform goes and, and also to participate myself. And so thank you so much for your time.
You're very welcome. It's been an absolute pleasure.
I'm Zachary Cartwright. This is water and food. Find this podcast on Apple, iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.