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Why the COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity for innovation. Interview with Yann Mahé from MyScienceWork

kokou adzo



Yann Mahe MyScienceWork

1) First of all, how are you and your family doing in these times of COVID-19?

Yann Mahé: My family and I took advantage of this period and especially during the confinement to step back and question the meaning we wanted to give to our lives. COVID-19 is a constant reminder that life is fragile and that our families, friends and colleagues are especially important.

2) Tell us about yourself, your career and how you started or joined MyScienceWork.

Yann Mahé: Before joining MyScienceWork, I worked for a dozen years with various players in the scientific, technical and medical information sector. I held various positions as sales & marketing director, innovation director and managing director, which enabled me to grasp and seize the strong challenges of this sector. The main challenge is that of opening up science. Indeed, scientific information is still only accessible today to a limited number of researchers and experts, and recent events show us that we need to free up access to scientific information and make it more digestible for non-experts and citizens of the world. It is in this context that I saw the essential role that MyScienceWork had to play in making science more open.

3) How does MyScienceWork continue to innovate?

Yann Mahé: The MyScienceWork team’s recipe is based on two ingredients for innovation.

One, our in-depth knowledge of the research data sector (issues, players, open/closed data sources, formats/standards, etc.) and two, our expertise in data science (automatic language processing, text & data mining, machine learning, etc.). It is with these two ingredients that we have developed our Polaris OS platform, available in open source, for the collection, management, analysis and valorisation of research data. Our platform embeds artificial intelligence services that allow research institutions, whatever their discipline might be, to identify new research fields, collaborative networks between researchers or to automate data extraction and processing or analysis tasks…

4) How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected MyScienceWork and how are you managing this crisis?

Yann Mahé: Having a multicultural international team at MyScienceWork with employees based in different countries and cities means we’ve long established a system of remote work.

Therefore, COVID-19 has not had much of an impact on us from a working organisation point of view. We already had the codes for teleworking and the knowledge of the existing tools. However, we have increased flexibility so that everyone can organise their working days and schedules to cope with new family constraints during confinement.

5) Have you had to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learnt?

Yann Mahé: We are amongst the lucky ones that didn’t have to make any difficult choices.
This health crisis has confirmed to us that caring, flexible work organization and empowerment provide the teams with a favourable environment to carry out our projects very effectively and thus achieve our objectives.

6) How do you deal with stress and anxiety during this period and how do you project yourself and MyScienceWork into the future?

Yann Mahé: Community outreach has been at the heart of stress and anxiety management during this period. We listened to everyone’s problems and left our teams free to adapt their working hours to suit their situation and choose to work at home or in the office. For those who wished to come, we rearranged the office so that they could work in pleasant conditions and in compliance with health regulations.
We have set up a weekly meeting with the whole team, both face-to-face and virtual, to ensure team cohesion. We have also encouraged all our team members to use digital tools to regularly discuss the company’s projects/topics.
The results have exceeded our expectations and we have therefore decided to maintain this working arrangement.

7) Who are your competitors and how do you plan to compete?

Yann Mahé: Our competitors offer software solutions that were developed several years ago, which deprives them of the “agile” properties that our solution offers. Our recently developed solutions therefore take into account the “data” aspect with all that this implies: flexibility, interoperability… An important point of our solution is that it requires very few developments to be implemented while being highly customisable and interoperable.

8) A final word?

Yann Mahé: The COVID-19 pandemic is of course an extremely difficult situation for most of us, but it is also an opportunity to rethink the way we conduct our lives. Wondering about the origin of this health crisis and its consequences are opportunities to adapt and live better.

9) Your website ?


Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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