According to molecular biologist Richard Jefferson, civilization has been built on open source for 4000 years without software; it was done with plants, animals, and agriculture. The founder of the 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 channeled into a handful of key projects. Patent Lens is an open-access, web-based, free patent search resource that provides the basis for the Initiative for Open Innovation, an ambitious global facility dedicated to publicly mapping global patent landscapes around health challenges such as malaria, tuberculosis and other neglected diseases. Ultimately, Jefferson aspires to nothing less than a change at the global level in how scientifically grounded problem solving is done and by whom.