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Democratizing scientific innovation.

Open-access tools to navigate patent regimes.

According to molecular biologist Richard Jefferson, civilization has been built on ‘open source’ for 4000 years – ‘but it wasn’t with software, it was with plants, it was with animals, it was with agriculture’. The founder of Brisbane-based technology non-profit Cambia, Jefferson is convinced that biotechnology can be used to benefit the impoverished, but only if the innovation process is ‘democratized’ to allow inclusive access to critical scientific tools. 

Since 1992, Cambia has sought to develop and disseminate new technologies and collaborative instruments, while fostering transparency and collective innovation in the life sciences. Though Jefferson and his team are highly respected researchers in their own right, Cambia’s greatest impact has been in its unceasing commitment to an open source alternative to complex intellectual property regimes. This energy is channelled into a handful of key projects. ‘Patent Lens’ is an open-access, webbased, free patent search resource that provides the basis for the ‘Initiative for Open Innovation’ – an ambitious global facility dedicated to publicly map global patent landscapes around (initially) public health challenges such as malaria, tuberculosis and other neglected diseases. 

Ultimately, Jefferson aspires to nothing less than a transformational change at the global level in how scientifically grounded problem solving is done and by whom.

(Photo © Cambia)