DR ALAN FINKEL AM, the Melbourne entrepreneur and scientist, and his wife Dr Elizabeth Finkel, an award-winning science writer, have agreed to acquire Cosmos Media – publishers of COSMOS, Australia’s #1 science magazine in print, iPad and online – and will move its editorial and advertising operations from Sydney to Melbourne.
Alan Finkel, currently Chancellor of Monash University and President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, has purchased the balance of the company he and Elizabeth did not already own for an undisclosed sum from co-founders Kylie Ahern, the company’s CEO, and Wilson da Silva, its Editorial Director.
“After eight years at the helm, and with so much achieved, Wilson and I felt it was time to look for new challenges,” said Ahern, a long-time magazine publishing executive who will be staying on until the end of June 2013 to oversee the company’s transition to Melbourne.
“This has been an incredibly rewarding job for me, and while I feel sad to leave, I also feel privileged to have worked with such a talented and innovative team who have helped us soar to such global heights. But I know that COSMOS is going to owners who love it as much as we do, so its legacy is in great hands.”
The immensely successful magazine, founded in 2004 and the winner of 47 national and international awards, has dominated its home market of Australia while also making unprecedented inroads into the consumer and education sectors locally and overseas.
The magazine reaches 70% of Australian high schools, where its popular education resources are greatly valued by teachers and students. In June 2012 it launched a highly interactive iPad edition which has become the best-rated science magazine app in the world by industry analysts iMonitor, and was named by Apple as among the best iPad magazine apps of 2012.
COSMOS has continued to grow its advertising and subscription revenue in an otherwise difficult market for the media, as well as expand its audience: in the latest Roy Morgan figures released in November 2012, COSMOS saw a 29.5% increase in readership year-on-year to 114,000 per issue.
Alan Finkel said, “I am tremendously impressed with what Kylie and Wilson and the team have been able to achieve in the past eight years – creating the COSMOS brand from the ground up and making into the world’s most respected literary science magazine. There’s nothing in the world like it, and I am very proud of the exceptional quality and reputation it has gained globally. Elizabeth and I are looking forward to imparting our personal vision for communicating the stories of science in the next chapter of its life in Melbourne.
“I’m also excited by the synergies that will emerge from bringing together the excellence of COSMOS with the new wave of powerful education software tools we are developing for the global classroom at Stile Education,” he added. Stile Education is a Melbourne technology start-up founded by Alan Finkel and others that is developing an intuitive digital workbook – for laptops and tablets of all makes – that will help school teachers easily create and manage interactive and engaging lessons in the classroom while monitoring and grading the progress of students.
Dr Elizabeth Finkel, an acclaimed science writer and author, will take over as Editor-in-Chief in July when COSMOS begins operating from Melbourne. Until then, da Silva will continue to lead editorial operations and develop a close working relationship with the new Melbourne editorial team, before departing the title he helped establish.
“We wanted to create a magazine with literary ambitions that was visually lush as well as intellectually rewarding,” said da Silva, twice winner of the Editor of the Year trophy from Publishers Australia. “We’ve achieved that in spades, and created a loyal following who are as fascinated and excited by science as we are. Over those eight years, Elizabeth has been our star writer, and I am delighted to be handing the editor’s chair to someone with as much skill and commitment to science journalism as Elizabeth.
“To every one of our talented staff, writers and illustrators who have toiled over the years to make COSMOS the success it is – we thank you. We could not have got here without you, and it remains our enormous pleasure to have worked with such a gifted and enthusiastic team.”
Among the company’s many science communication accomplishments over the years was the wildly successful HELLO FROM EARTH initiative, created for Australia’s National Science Week in 2009. In the first two weeks following launch, the campaign website was splashed across 1,000 newspapers worldwide and linked to by more than 11,000 blogs.
Since the magazine’s inception, COSMOS has run a rigorous and highly-sought internship program which has trained 70 university science graduates in science journalism and communication. The company has also been a partner and sponsor of many science awareness events, from the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science to the Melbourne Writers Festival.
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COSMOS is Australia’s #1 science magazine in print, iPad and online, reaching 600,000 people every month. An Australian brand with a global outlook, COSMOS is internationally respected for its literary writing, excellence in design and engaging breadth of content.
It is the winner of 47 awards, including twice Magazine of the Year and twice Editor of the Year at the annual Publishers Australia Excellence Awards. Other accolades include the American Institute of Physics’ Science Writing Award, the Reuters/IUCN Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism, the City of Sydney Lord Mayor’s Sustainability Award and an Earth Journalism Award.
COSMOS is produced by Cosmos Media, a boutique publisher which has twice won Best Publisher, and which has produced custom media products for a range of clients, including Federal and State governments, corporations, universities and research institutes internationally.
The company was founded by scientist and entrepreneur Dr Alan Finkel, magazine publishing executive Kylie Ahern, and science journalists Wilson da Silva and Elizabeth Finkel. It was formed in November 2004, the first issue of COSMOS launched in July 2005, and the magazine is backed by an advisory board that includes Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, among others.
ABOUT THE FOUNDERS OF COSMOS MEDIA
Dr Alan Finkel AM FTSE is an engineer, entrepreneur and philanthropist and has served as Chancellor of Monash University since January 2008, and this year commenced as the President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). He a co-founder of Cosmos Media.
He received his Bachelor of Engineering in 1976 and Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Monash University in 1981, following which he worked as a neuroscience research fellow at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the Australian National University. The founder and CEO of Axon Instruments, a publically-listed U.S. company that made precision instruments used in biotechnology in the discovery of new medicines, he led it for 20 years until its sale in 2004.
Alan Finkel has a passionate interest in science education, founding the renowned Australian Course in Advanced Neuroscience to provide advanced training to early career scientists. He also established the secondary school science program STELR, administered by ATSE, which is currently running in over 300 secondary schools around Australia. He’s the CEO of Stile Education, Chairman of the Australian Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) and formerly held governance roles in child-abuse research and medical research.
Dr Elizabeth Finkel holds a PhD in biochemistry and spent 10 years as a research scientist before becoming an award-winning science journalist. A co-founder of Cosmos Media and a contributing editor of the magazine since its launch, she has written for Science, The Lancet, The Age as well as COSMOS over the years, and made many appearances on ABC Radio National. Her awards include the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award (2004), the Michael Daley Award for Best Radio Feature, Best Analytical Journalist of the Year (Publishers Australia, 2010) and Higher Education Journalist of the Year (Universities Australia, 2011). She is best known for her books Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science and her latest, The Genome Generation.
Alan and Elizabeth Finkel are leading philanthropists in science, education and the environment. They have donated to a number of causes in Australia and overseas through the Alan and Elizabeth Finkel Foundation, including grants and endowments to universities, research groups and the general community.
Kylie Ahern is the CEO and co-founder of Cosmos Media, the publisher COSMOS and an entrepreneurial identity in publishing and science communication. The past Chair of Australia’s National Science Week in New South Wales, she has also served on the board of Publishers Australia, the magazine industry group. She started her career at IPC Magazines in Britain, went on to several senior roles in Australia, including Marketing Director at FPC Magazines, Group Circulation Manager at ACP Magazines and Publisher at Yaffa. Over the past eight years she has led Cosmos Media to win of 54 awards across editorial, publishing and marketing, including twice Magazine of the Year for COSMOS, and she has twice taken out the Best Publisher trophy.
Wilson da Silva is the creative force behind COSMOS, and has served as editor-in-chief since co-founding Cosmos Media in 2004. A former on-air science reporter for ABC TV, he has been a foreign correspondent for Reuters, served as editor of the science magazine Newton and as science editor of ABC Online, is a former staff journalist on The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers and was a Sydney correspondent at New Scientist. He is the winner of 31 awards, including twice Editor of the Year for his work on COSMOS and the prestigious Australian Film Institute Award for Best Documentary. He’s a past president of the World Federation of Science Journalists, and has held governance roles with the Australian Society of Authors, The Australian Museum Society and Australian Science Communicators.