The 2023 Open Science Free Research Software Awards

News from the Committee

The winners of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research’s second Open Science Free Research Software Awards have been announced. Eight software applications developed by French teams were rewarded for their contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge or for their promising work in this area.

The idea for the Open Science Free Research Software Awards was set out in the Second National Plan for Open Science. These awards highlight the work of research projects and teams that develop and disseminate open source software and thus contribute to the construction of a major common good. They recognise the production of open source software as a contribution to and a result of research. They showcase exceptional or highly promising achievements that could inspire the scientific community and society alike. The winners were selected by a panel of experts chaired by Sandrine Blazy, professor of computer science at the University of Rennes.

The Open Science Free Research Software Awards are divided into four categories rewarding established projects and promising initiatives alike. The jury presented one ‘winner’ and one ‘promising’ award in the following four categories:

  • ‘Scientific and technical’.
  • ‘Community’.
  • ‘Documentation’.
  • The jury’s ‘Coup de Coeur‘ prize for an exemplary project combining several of the dimensions involved in these issues.

The prizes were awarded on November 29th 2023 at the Open Science Awards ceremony.

PPanGGOLiN: ‘promising’ award in the ‘Scientific and Technical’ category

PPanGGoLin (Partitioned PanGenome Graph Of Linked Neighbours) is a bioinformatics software for the analysis of pangenomes – all the genes present in a group of related organisms. This project began in 2016, the aim of the software being to help microbiologists compare bacterial genomes on the mass scale, particularly to study genome evolution, gene diversity and the stable and variable parts between these genomes. The PPanGGOLiN software works with graphs that represent the colocation relationships between genes in genomes.

Smilei: winner in the ‘Scientific and Technical’ category

Smilei is a simulation tool that runs on supercomputers and is intended for researchers studying hot plasma physics. It has numerous applications in the field of physics and its development began in 2014. Smilei is a high-performance code that results from close collaboration between several physics communities (plasma physics, laser-matter interaction, particle physics, astrophysics, space physics) and high-performance computing experts. 

NoiseCapture: ‘promising’ award in the ‘Community’ category

NoiseCapture is a smartphone application that enables users to measure noise levels in their environments collaboratively. This app was officially launched in 2017 and is part of a participatory science dynamic. It is having a growing impact through its wide range of applications in various research fields and also on the societal level.

OCaml: winner of the ‘Community’ category

OCaml is a functional, imperative and object-oriented programming language that features strong static typing, automatic type inference and program modularity. It has a range of applications from academic research to a variety of industrial sectors. OCaml includes two compilers and an execution environment and is part of a vast ecosystem via the OPAM package manager. It has evolved non-stop since 1996 but has ensured the continuity of programmes written in this language.

KeOps: ‘promising’ award in the ‘Documentation’ category

KeOps is a library for manipulating distance matrices, kernels and other operators. Keops accelerates algorithm computations by a factor of 10 to 100 by implementing optimised numerical schemes that work with available architectures, including graphics cards. KeOps is designed to fit seamlessly into many existing software packages coded in Python and R. This project began in 2016 and has applications in mathematics, computer science, biology and health.

Brian: winner in the ‘Documentation’ category

Brian is an impulse-based biological neural network simulator designed to enable new models to be rapidly rapid developed. The BRIAN 2 version designed in 2007 has evolved to become a ‘flagship’ in the field of neurobiology where it is used for teaching purposes and has wide range of applications by the scientific community.

Fink: ‘promising’ award in the Jury’s ‘Coup de Coeur’ category

Fink is a set of services for the astrophysics community, enabling researchers to study variable and transient phenomena. The Fink project is at the intersection of transient astronomy, cosmology and big data. Its development began in 2019 and it was published in 2021 with the aim of providing a response to the dual challenge of processing massive data in real time and federating a community of astrophysicists who use them.

Hyphe: winner of the ‘Jury’s Favourite’ category

Hyphe is a software package for social sciences researchers and students who can use it to create, clean and categorise ‘web corpora’ in the form of networks of links between websites. It was designed in 2010 and can be used to construct a map of controversies inspired by the Actor-Network theory.


The jury for the 2023 Open Science Free Research Software Awards was chaired by Sandrine Blazy, professor of computer Science at the University of Rennes and made up of:

  • Françoise Conil (CNRS)
  • François Elie (ADULLACT)
  • Stéfane Fermigier (Abilian)
  • Christine Gaspin (INRAE)
  • Nicolas Garçon (Les filles et les garçons de la Tech)
  • Alexis Kauffmann (Ministry of National Education and Youth)
  • Bruno Khélifi (CNRS)
  • Edlira Nano (Lyon 1 University, APRIL)
  • Lucas Nussbaum (INRIA)
  • Guillaume Plique (Médialab Sciences-Po Paris)
  • Nicolas Roelandt (Gustave Eiffel University)
  • Florence Sedes (Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III)