What Spare Bedrooms Can Teach Science About Intellectual Property
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-05-06
"In 2007 two roommates from San Francisco were struggling to make rent. They had limited options for raising funds in a hurry, but as former design students they knew that a design conference was shortly to occur in the city. With space in San Francisco at a premium and the hotels fully booked they came upon a disarmingly simple idea; they would rent out three airbeds on their living-room floor and cook their guests breakfast. They created a website to put their plan into motion and duly advertised their services. The two rented all of the beds and charged each guest $80 a night. When the guests departed in the morning the two roommates decided they had the seed of a innovative business. What if they could scale up their spare room renting concept to provide a platform where other users could do the same? This business grew to become Airbnb, which is today valued at $31 billion USD.¹
Making The Link
At first glance, the scientific community and the room rental business might seem to have absolutely nothing in common, but if you scratch beneath the surface the parallels become clear. What Airbnb successfully created was a service in which the latent value of spare rooms could be unlocked by providing a single user-friendly platform in which landlords could advertise their space, and those seeking rooms could find them. Thousands find a room to stay in every night thanks to Airbnb, and yet, the company owns no hotels. The rooms Airbnb rent are not theirs, and the founders no longer rent out space on their living room floors. The value of Airbnb lies in the connections their service makes possible. Knowbella Tech is creating an open science platform to be powered by blockchain technology in which intellectual property (IP) can be leveraged in much the same way. At present there is an estimated $4 trillion dollars of intellectual property that is unused in institutions around the globe.² It is knowledge which, for one reason or another, has not been able to reach its full potential. This intellectual property is both dormant and orphan, so we named it “dorphan” IP. As reported by Bonazzi and Bourne (2017), “Airbnb supports a trusted service between providers and consumers of that service. Consider biomedical preclinical and clinical research, in which the trusted service involves the exchange of papers, data, software, reagents, and so on. An author publishes a paper having applied rules of scientific conduct and is a supplier. That paper is read by consumers based on how much they likely trust the work based on what they know about the authors and what journal it was published in, which, in turn, speaks to the presumed quality of the review, who else cited it, and what trusted bloggers and other social media contributors have had to say about it.”³ Knowbella Tech believes dorphan IP is not only a missed opportunity for science as a whole, but is a tragic waste of scientific time, money and research. What is one person’s trash may be another’s treasure, and yet, this treasure may as well be buried in a landfill. By bringing the scientific community together around dorphan IP, Knowbella Tech will create a collaborative platform for open science. A platform in which the spare bedrooms of science need no longer remain vacant. The
Power of Collaboration
Although Airbnb analogy can be used to explain one aspect of the Knowbella Tech Platform it does not by any means adequately explain the full scope, vision and potential of our mission. Thanks to blockchain technology we will also have our own cryptocurrency which we are calling Helix. As the currency of science Helix will reward scientists for registering, developing manuscripts, conducting peer reviews and collaborating with each other. In fact, one of the key driving forces behind our inception is to create a new collaborative platform for open science. In this aspect we could be more closely compared to the software development company Github. By creating an open source resource for programmers Github now boasts over 20 million users and holds 57 million repositories of open source code.⁴ Founded a mere ten years ago it has grown to become the world’s leading software development platform. If scientific collaboration around dorphan IP could be expanded to anything like those sorts of levels who knows what would be made possible. Knowbella Tech’s mission is to be the world’s leading open research platform focusing on dorphan IP and technologies. Knowbella Tech is the Airbnb of intellectual property; it is the Github of open science."