OpenPlantand The Synthetic Biology SRI, Public Policy SRI and Faculty of Law co-organised a workshop held on 28 January 2016 on the openness of large bioresources in synthetic biology and genomics. The resulting report by Dr John Liddicoat and Dr Kathy Liddell has now been published on SSRN.
Research in synthetic biology and genomics depends on the use of collections of tissue and data, commonly known as bioresources. Substantial amounts of time and money are being spent on creating these bioresources and it is likely that significant scientific breakthroughs and development of end-products may be missed or delayed if the tissue and data in these resources are not shared. Accordingly, the ‘openness’ of these bioresources — in other words, the ability for other researchers to access, use, and share these resources (which is typically recorded in a bioresource’s IP and access policy) — is a key issue for the success of bioresource initiatives and the progress of synthetic biology and genomics.
There are, however, many different approaches to openness, and the development and dissemination of new knowledge are not necessarily advanced by distributing material at low cost or without any restrictions; time-limited rights of control (e.g. IP rights) may provide a useful incentive. It is a significant challenge to develop a fit-for-purpose openness policy that balances the advantages (and disadvantages) of different approaches to openness. The Workshop addressed this challenge by: reviewing openness policies adopted by large bioresources; eliciting ideas about access and intellectual property; debating the applicability of different openness policies; and identifying relevant areas for future research.
The report can be accessed here, and thanks and acknowledgments go to the Welcome ISSF and OpenPlant Fund. Both the Synthetic Biology SRI and OpenPlant were involved with co-organisation of funding along with Public Policy SRI and LML.
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