eLife Innovation Leaders | an Open Leaders X program

By Abigail Cabunoc Mayes | Jan. 8, 2020 | Open Leadership & Events

Emmy Tsang (@eLifeInnovation / @emmy_ft) is the Innovation Community Manager at eLife, a non-profit organisation with the mission to accelerate research communication and discovery. With a passion for community and open science, Emmy is adding a new open leadership program to their existing work this space. Over the past few months, I’ve been working with Emmy as she prepares to launch eLife Innovation Leaders during Open Leaders X.

I interviewed Emmy to learn more about eLife Innovation Leaders and how you can contribute to the work.

Open Leaders X

What is eLife Innovation Leaders?

A 14-week mentorship and open leadership programme designed for innovators developing open tools and platforms to drive forward research communication and open science.

Why did you start eLife Innovation Leaders?

The mission of the eLife Innovation Initiative is to support a community of open innovators that are developing tools to change the ways we consume, share, discover and evaluate research. For the past two years, through organising the eLife Innovation Sprint, we’ve brought together researchers and technologists and saw a wealth of ideas and prototypes. We also realise that many of these projects don’t tend to continue beyond the Sprint – and we hope that through Innovation Leaders, these innovators would be able to learn over a longer period of time. With support from experts, mentors and each other, project leads can strategically think about project sustainability, open communication and ultimately to feel empowered to take these ideas forward on their own.

How does your program connect participants to the internet health movement?

I believe that open science goes hand-in-hand with internet health, and investing in open-source tools development and open community building for open science will help the broader internet health movement on several levels.

  • First, knowledge is power, and building more open and inclusive research information systems and communities will empower more people to create and shape the world around them, including the web.
  • Second, the research ecosystem shares many problems overlapping with that of the internet, e.g. information explosion, platform capitalism and digital exclusion. The open-source tools and communities built to drive open science can inspire similar initiatives to improve internet health in general.
  • Finally, critical thinking and scientific reasoning are crucial for awareness and understanding of internet health issues, and widening participation and democratising research will equip more people with the skills to participate in the digital world, and a stronger voice to defend the openness and equality of the web.

What did you learn by bringing your program to MozFest 2019? How are you continuing the momentum after the festival?

The deepest impression for me from MozFest is realising the power of co-creation. After facilitating two sessions and presenting Innovation Leaders at MozFest, I was overwhelmed and touched by the number of people who approached me to offer help and advice. Many of us, including myself, came to MozFest with imperfect and unfinished ideas (like Innovation Leaders), and I think this vulnerability and willingness to share is what makes MozFest so powerful and unique. I will keep that in mind as I continue to develop Innovation Leaders– that this is very much v1 of the programme, and can only be continually improved upon by its participants and many others.

How can others get involved in your program?

I’m currently trying to develop a curriculum for the programme – if you have any experience in project management, design thinking, communications and marketing, financial sustainability and/or open leadership, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at innovation [at] elifesciences [dot] org– I’d love to hear what you think is most important for participants to learn (:


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