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Public Domain Gazette

Supporting scientific research through open-source biotech patents

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The brief:

Launch a platform that highlights the most useful open-source or expiring biotech patents, helping make them discoverable by biologists and biotechnologists and supporting them in their development of new technologies.

This platform would help remove the many legal and patent barriers that hinder research, as well as contribute towards a fairer and more sustainable bio-economy, particularly in the Global South.

The client

Open Bioeconomy Lab is supported by the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge.

Our solution:

An initial Theory of Change focused on launching a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that would feature curated public domain technologies. It would also support Open Bio Economy to demonstrate to funders the potential of such a platform.

The resulting solution is a stripped-back, WordPress powered website populated with technologies from patent offices or “born-open” initiatives.

Each technology is an item of content in the Content Management System, searchable into categories and sub categories (at the top levels these are currently enzymes, hardware and reporters, if you’re scientifically inclined).

Abstracts, footnotes, full patent documentation links and inventor attribution are all supported too, as extra content fields.

Editorial control is provided to the team through both the ability to add context to highlight each tech’s value to the scientific community, as well as feature particular technologies on the website homepage.

Meanwhile we created a Google Analytics dashboard to report on the most viewed technologies and categories, as well as the effectiveness of the main search engine (the reporting focuses on search term refinements and site exits after search).

This can help the team to better understand the types of technologies searched for, and matched with Analytics’ default geolocation reporting, helps identify biotech needs across the world. And in turn, it demonstrates to funders the uptake and potential of the platform.

Moving forward:

There is much we can do to develop the portal further. One of the main features in the backlog is to use the Lens patent API to pull in relevant, expiring patent listings into the CMS automatically, whereupon the editorial team can add contextual content, publish and feature them accordingly.

Needless to say, freeing knowledge and sharing it beyond the Global North particularly resonates with the Outlandish team!