Leah Zitter

Leah Zitter

Kris Jack: CTO & Cofounder of Science2Innovation

Science2Innovation | December 5th, 2019 | https://www.science2innovation.com/

¨I find people fascinating¨ (Kris Jack, November, 24, 2019)

Kris Jack's story started way back when he was a child of six on the swings in the park and watched children talking. “Some of them were speaking in foreign languages,” he said, “I wondered how the children could understand each other and connect.”

That topic later led to his dissertation, A Computational Model of Staged Language Acquisition(The University of Dundee, 2006), and then on to a nexus of companies from Orange (a multinational telecommunications corporation; France), where he worked as an engineer, to Chief Data Scientist at London tech startup Mendeley, Head of Data Science at the world's largest academic scientific publisher, Elsevier, and, somewhere along the way, as R &D Engineer at a James Bond-type job in Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA).

His career included three postdoc positions and chased a recurrent theme: “The thread that held it all together,” he noted in a Medium interview, “is information systems. How does information get in our heads (i.e. language learning), get out (i.e. language production), how do we guess other people’s preferences, and how do we help them find things?”

Kris Jack's Focus: Helping Technical Scientists and Companies Connect

One of Kris´ earliest job interviews later fueled his model of Science2Innovation. He’d been expecting the interviewer to read and ask him questions on his publications, and so he spent the entire two hours spouting off on some distributional semantic approach using big data to compare two strings. In the meantime, all the interviewer wanted was basic answers dealing with some items like the similarities between two different strings.

“He was expecting a two- to three-seconds basic answer,” Kris recounted, “I rambled on and on with high-tiered research that was totally beyond his grasp and thoroughly boring... I flunked the interview.”

Kris likes to compare the job-finding marketplace to a fog. There are around 60 million researchers globally - 20 million in academia, 40 million in industry.

"So many have told me ‘we’ve spent years and years looking for a job makes good use of our skills and no success’. They are frustrated and think they're underused and not fulfilling their potential. And then there are companies all over the world whose biggest pressing problem, their CEOs told us, was recruiting qualified personnel. In the companies Beatrice and I spoke to, all of them told us their recruitment can be improved. Demand is high, particularly on the data science/AI side … Those CEOs are starving. You need someone to make the right match.¨

The Communication Problem

As Kris found with himself, Ph.D. graduates face two problems. First, they've acquired an academic language that sounds, well, like a lot of gollygobble to all but themselves. Along comes the Businessman, sharp and snappy, who wants a 1-2-3 solution to the company's problems in words the businessman understands. Result: Academic and Businessman can't connect.

Second: Doctorate students are taught to whip up unique ideas for their research dissertation. All the businessman wants is solutions - band-aids for her problems - even if those solutions are as old as Eve. She´s open to second-hand proposals as long as those proposals are better, faster, cheaper, and so forth than those that existed previously.

The Academic/Businessman Tinder match are like Chomsky's idea of compositionality in language, where you take two unrelated words such as “red'' and “chair” and put them together to make a meaningful phrase like ¨The red chair ̈. The PhD graduate, say, is “red ̈ ; the Businessman is “chair ̈. You need a shared grammar to link the two blocks together to make sense, namely to make a profitable whole.

Solution: science2Innovation

In 2019, Kris Jack met Beatrice Zatorska at startup generator and early-stage VC Antler, and they founded science2Innovatiton, where Kris uses his remarkable network and experience to connect academics and companies. The entrpreneurs invented science2Innvoation blitzcards to help job-seekers word their high-level research into tantalizing language for industry ROI. Results? Academics get their dream jobs. And companies get their dream recruits.

So Kris´ job is not all that different from what he started out doing. He uses communication to help high tech hiring agent and high tech job seekers find each other.

¨I can't imagine producing research that changes the world,” Kris concedes, “but I change the world by bringing two people together.¨

Dr. Kris Jack is CTO and Cofounder of science2innovation. He uses his broad range of research interests in computer science to help people understand information, communicate it and make new discoveries. He has expertise in Recommendation Systems, Information Retrieval and Information Extraction, and more broadly in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.