Tell us a few words about the founders and how the idea came
In 2017 ReviewerCredits was born, an innovative start-up and spin-off of the Milano-Bicocca University, from the idea of professors Giacomo Bellani and Robert Fruscio – doctors, researchers, university professors, as well as authors and reviewers – who, together with millions of scientists worldwide, they contribute to scientific research by participating in a fundamental part of the publication process: peer-review, the process of evaluating scientific articles before they are published.
Why is peer review so important and yet nobody (or almost) knows this term and its existence?
The peer-review ensures the authenticity, relevance and rigor of the results published at local and international level, avoiding the proliferation of fake news also in the scientific field. An indispensable job, therefore and never as now, in the era of Covid-19.
Nonetheless, Professors Giacomo Bellani and Robert Fruscio found themselves faced with a reality that does not recognize and reward this work: all scientists and researchers in the world are not paid or get awards for their contribution as reviewers.
The commitment to review, study and verify scientific articles before they are published and therefore become part of universal knowledge, is simply “donated” to science for the good of humanity and progress.
Loudly the scientists ask that the peer-review be certified and valued; the increase in scientific research (+ 6.1% YoY) has made it difficult to find scientists available to take on the task of peer-reviewer (14 million revisions per year) and scientific progress is slowed by an inefficient and unfair system.
In this context, ReviewerCredits was born in 2017 with the aim of creating a web platform that guarantees auditors to obtain a solid certification peer-review activity to be included in their curricula to obtain visibility and career advancements as well as virtual credits that can be spent on the platform. In parallel, it allows publishers to find the reviewers to whom they can entrust the scientific article review process.
The founders, of clear medical-scientific extraction, were joined by senior professionals in the field of scientific publishing, digital and business management, consolidating the structure which is now completely independent and Italian.
Although still in the start-up phase, the platform is active and has 8 thousand registered profiles, 400 magazines and 10 thousand completed peer-reviews.
Link to online video
Your products and services
We have just discovered that scientists “offer” their work as reviewers to science and that this work is not rewarded and recognized. On the other side there are the editors of scientific journals who publish these works and who are constantly looking for credibility and reputation, today more than e-mail in relation to the effects that publications of articles and non-peer-reviewed research on the topic Covid-19 could have on the scientific community and on humanity.
So how to solve the need for rigorous scientific work with the absence of recognition of the same?
ReviewerCredits has created the web platform reviewercredits.com dedicated to the certification, quantification and “virtual monetization” of the peer-review process necessary to guarantee quality and authoritativeness in the pre-publication phase of the scientifc articles.
In fact, our platform offers scientists, who register for free, a certificate of their contribution in the peer-review process and tangible recognition in “virtual credits” that can be spent in our e-commerce store.
Credits can be spent to purchase discounted subscriptions to scientific publications, to access the online training offer, to publish articles at favorable prices in Open Access and can also be converted into green credits to be donated to sustainability initiatives related to the concept of Sustainable Reviews.
Your success factors
Scientific publishing is a specific market, certainly not well known to the public, but certainly not a niche one: the international scientific community feeds thousands of journals. A huge number of scientific publications – and growing – that has yet to live and take full advantage of the opportunities and the digital revolution.
We have understood the need to bridge this technological / cultural gap and we position ourselves on the market with an innovative product dedicated to this specific, but decidedly broad audience, through our technological platform: connection via API to other platforms, such as editorial management platforms manuscripts that automatically transmit the data of the peer-reviews carried out; connection with databases of other research products; introduction of Artificial Intelligence also in the peer-review field; privileged access to the database of our auditors etc.
For publishers, our distinctive model allows access to a growing database of profiled reviewers and promotes the resolution of delays, increasing the quality of the article review process that leads to their publication, the final goal of each Publisher.
The world of virtual credits is then still partially unexplored. We are currently offering products that are strongly linked with the scientific environment of users, but in the future it may be interesting and attractive to offer less vertical products, such as cards that can be spent on e-commerce sites, vouchers and promotions for air tickets and hotels and also subscriptions to Spotify … why not?
Your factors differentiating and disruptive compared to the existing
As we have learned by now, the reviewers (our scientists-benefactors-heroes) are not supported or paid for their activity as authors-reviewers, while the revenues of the published articles go to the Publishers, companies with turnover targets at many zeros and that have internationally known names. 
ReviewerCredits has the ambition to be disruptive towards the system, with the introduction of peer-review certification and the first virtual credit system in the academic field: no sector operator has managed to create a platform that solves the historical problem related to article review mechanism. The peer review has not undergone many changes since its introduction in 1800: it remains the only “method” adopted internationally to avoid the publication of inaccurate, incomplete or even “fake” information.
Furthermore, the peer-review mechanism will hardly change in the coming years, indeed, in the face of greater research funding, the activity of universities also in emerging countries, publications will grow numerically and the reviewer element will always remain the scarce good to engage and retain loyalty through not only quantitative but also qualitative metrics.
Our start-up ReviewerCredits is experiencing a first mover phase and one of its competitive advantages is being independent of large groups and economic interests, which safeguards our objectivity.
 The Publishing market is natively international and the number of newly published magazines is constantly growing, particularly in some areas of the world (India, China). The turnover of large publishers stands at around 14 billion euros: the EMEA area represents an important market share with around 4.5 billion euros (Source: Outsell, STH 2018) and six of the top fifteen companies in the world , are European (Elsevier, Springer Nature, Cambridge University Press, Informa, IHS, BSI).
Your business model (how do you make money?)
We guarantee free registration on the platform to scientists and researchers, while we offer a paid registration to scientific journals with an annual subscription declined in three different plans that give access to differentiated services: Free, Plus and Premium.
Our target audience are medium and small international publishers, specifically the publications of the Open Access panorama, which needs to increase competitiveness on the market. In fact, access to the reviewer database, to the virtual credit system and to qualitative and quantitative certification metrics, facilitates the peer-review process, making the publication process more efficient, allowing not only to increase the number of published articles, but also visibility and authority for publishers who register on our platform.
The process is managed entirely online: from the subscription of the subscription to the disbursement of credit through an e-commerce.
A few words about your competitors
In the scientific world there are numerous platforms and vertical sites that deal with the sharing of content and the promotion of articles on the net with “social” mechanisms: Researchgate, Academia, Researcherapp, GrowthKudos, Loops, to name a few examples.
They are platforms with millions of users, often powered by paid search, which only take into account the role of “authors” of scientists and not that of reviewers.
The only site dedicated to peer-review – and our benchmark – is Publons.com.
The success of Publons confirms the interest that peer-review has on the market: founded 2012 in New Zealand and acquired by Clarivate Analytics in 2017 (giant of the scientific world listed on the NYSE, manages services based on data analysis and is the owner of for example of Web of Science, indexing service for scientific citations, and Scholarone, editorial management platform for manuscripts), went from 500 thousand researchers in 2018 to the current 2 million.
Publons provides peer-review measurement tools to publishers and scientists, using group companies. The lack of independence and the marginal interest in social recognition of the peer-review activity makes Publons unloved by the reviewers. To this must be added the limitation of a not very robust certification system. However, the strength of its large database and the services offered by the site makes Publons the only current interlocutor for publishers in the peer-review process … but now we are here too! With a different goal than Publons, that is to improve the peer-review process by creating mercanto standards, placing scientists and the recognition of their precious work at the center of our project.