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Satirical science has the last laugh

26 June 2007

Bristol-based company Null Hypothesis, the Journal of Unlikely Science has just received first-phase equity funding, enabling further development of its award-winning business.

The online science magazine, developed by three postgraduates from the School of Biological Sciences (Mark Steer, Andrew Impey and David Hall), approaches science communication in a unique, fresh and non-exclusive way and this has been the key to its success.

Andrew Impey, managing director of Null Hypothesis and a Recognised Teacher in Continuing Education in the School of Biological Sciences, said: ‘This is an incredibly exciting time as we aim to build on our existing brand recognition and take Null to the next level. Since its conception back in 2004 our Journal of Unlikely Science has gone from strength to strength and we have no intention of taking our foot off the gas.’

Null Hypothesis started life as a national print format magazine, and won second prize in the University’s New Enterprise Competition in 2005. Entering into the highly competitive world of publishing, it was described by the Daily Telegraph as the Private Eye of science. The team soon negotiated a national contract with Borders bookshops and built up a subscription base all over the world. It is based in the University's SETsquared Acceleration Centre in University Gate East.

In 2006, the decision was made to move to a purely online format based on revenue potential and the incentive of a global audience. Within the first three months of moving online, Null increased its audience fivefold. Already the team has fostered strong links with the national media through online content, science festivals and radio interviews. Null is updated on a daily basis and acts as a portal for science lovers to access information, entertainment, employment opportunities, merchandise and a similarly minded community.

Mark Steer, also a Recognised Teacher in Continuing Education in the School of Biological Sciences and co-founder of Null Hypothesis, said: ‘As academics, we wanted to challenge the current image of science in the media by highlighting the weird and wacky side and prove that science can be enjoyed by anyone.’

Null Hypothesis aims to create an online community where people have two common threads – an interest in science and a humorous outlook on life. The website gives academics the opportunity to cut loose from the rigours of academic publishing and involves members of the public who may previously have felt excluded. ‘We positively encourage discussion and creativity on the site,’ said Andrew Impey. ‘Anyone can contribute, regardless of their scientific background. It’s all about giving ownership to the community and this is central to our development.’

The new funding will be used to develop the website’s main revenue streams and improve site navigation.


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