Kamila Markram has been shortlisted for this year’s European Union Prize for Women Innovators – an award spearheading a drive to showcase female entrepreneurs and boost awareness of the important role and contribution of women in research.
Dr Markram is a finalist for this prize for her work in co-founding and building Frontiers, an open-access academic publisher based in Lausanne, Switzerland. In just nine years Frontiers has transformed academic publishing, empowering researchers and becoming one of the largest and most impactful open access publishers in the world.
As a young neuroscientist, Dr Markram was surprised at the inaccessibility of scientific knowledge as well as the lack of transparency around the process of reviewing, publishing and evaluating research. In 2007, Kamila, and her husband, Henry, founded Frontiers to try to address these issues, “Science is the motor of the world and I strongly felt that the world needs quick and efficient access to all science. Today, science builds on science, so the more open it is, the more we can innovate, invent and find solutions to the challenges we face in the 21st century. I had to do something.”
Their vision was to build an Open Science platform on which everybody had an equal opportunity to seek, share and generate knowledge. By taking publishing entirely online, Frontiers drives innovations and develops new technologies to make peer-review more efficient and transparent. The company pioneered impact metrics for papers as well as a researcher community called LOOP, and is entirely open-access.
From the beginning, Dr Markram has driven Frontier’s innovation. She now manages a team of more than 250 staff with offices in five countries. More than 70’000 of the world’s highest impact researchers in science, medicine, engineering, humanities and social sciences have joined Frontiers editorial boards under Kamila’s leadership. Two-hundred thousand academic authors have published more than 50’000 articles viewed and downloaded for free 200 million times worldwide.
Dr Markram is also proud that Frontiers is a leader in gender equality. 55% of Frontiers’ senior management positions are held by women and female representation on the Frontiers editorial board is around 25%, among the highest in academic publishing. But with less than a third of innovators in Europe being women and a remaining large gender gap in much of European research Kamila Markram urges women to get involved, “There is a lot of mythology around start-ups. I find that it takes deep passion, perseverance and hard work, because success starts with people who really care about what they do. Business processes come naturally when you know clearly what you want to achieve and why.”
The winner of the year’s EU Prize for Women Innovators 2017 will be announced at the European Parliament in Brussels on March 8 as part of celebrations for International Women’s Day.