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ArkFab Innovation Foundation Executive Summary

ArkFab Innovation Foundation Executive Summary

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Published by Liam Rattray
An Executive Summary of the ArkFab Innovation Foundation proposal. Leveraging the power of crowds and commons to promote access to sustainable technologies.
An Executive Summary of the ArkFab Innovation Foundation proposal. Leveraging the power of crowds and commons to promote access to sustainable technologies.

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Published by: Liam Rattray on Mar 01, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ArkFab Innovation Foundation
Leveraging the Power of Crowds and Commons to Provide Access to SustainableTechnologies
Liam Rattray, School of Public Policy
1.0 The Problem
We now live in a complex world. Over the past 200 years globalization hasincreased our interconnectedness while industrialization has increased our inter-dependencies. The global division of labor between and within nations has createda diversity of economic and social roles for humanity never before seen and bycompelling us to leave our natural habitats the city now claims the majority of 
Homo sapiens
. Humans and the environments we fundamentally rely on for oursurvival are now struggling to keep up and adapt to the difficult implications of these changes.Sustainable technologies offer an opportunity to aid the transition towardsmore resilient communities but physical hardware alone is not sufficient. Successfuladoption, operation and maintenance of sustainable technologies in at-riskcommunities requires both the physical hardware and the local competences of individual and social capacity, knowledge and know-how.
Providing thesecommunities economic and social access to the technologies they need to improvetheir resilience is arguably the most critical problem in the field of sustainabledevelopment. We must renovate or establish organizations that better coordinateand leverage the innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptive power of all individualsespecially those individuals who are most at risk.
1.1 Sustainable Technology Gridlock 
In 2007 the problem of sustainable technology gridlock was brought toworldwide attention at the United Nations Framework Convention on ClimateChange (UNFCCC) Congress of Parties 13 (COP13) in Bali, Indonesia. This impasse isone of many that must be resolved for a bipartisan international climate treaty to besigned. There are serious disagreements over the role of intellectual property inproviding access to sustainable technologies between developing nations whoargue that intellectual property regimes are a barrier to sustainable technologyimplementation and OECD nations, such as the USA, who maintain that weakintellectual property regimes in major developing countries are the main barrier tothe export of sustainable technologies.
However, neither side is incorrect becausethe current intellectual property regime which guarantees monopoly on sustainabletechnologies acts both as a driver, by mitigating risk for development firms, andbarrier, by generating high transaction costs, to sustainable technology diffusionand adoption in different regulatory contexts. For many developing countries anddeprived communities the World Trade Organization administered Agreement on
Metz, B., et al. 2000.
 Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer.
A Special Report of IPCCWorking Group III. Cambridge University Press.http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_sr/?src=/climate/ipcc/ 
tectran/ (accessed December 9, 2009).
ICTSD. 2008. Climate Technology Meeting Highlights Developed-Developing Country Divide.
Bridges Tradeand Biological Resources News Digest 
, Vol. 8(20). November 14.http://ictsd.org/i/news/biores/33669/ 
 (accessedDecember 9, 2009).
 Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and patent law ingeneral constitutes an overwhelming barrier to local development, adoption andimplementation of sustainable technologies.
Gridlock can occur when theknowledge necessary to be synthesized into innovation is fragmented betweenmany owners and results in often insurmountable transaction costs to the licensingand commercialization of new innovations.
Furthermore, the US position onsustainable technology exports highlights another tension in which developingcountries and communities do not wish to act solely as importers but wish todevelop local capacities for sustainable technology development. These problemscompound already high barriers to sustainable technology access and climatechange adaptation for countries and communities lacking significant financial orhuman capital while further delaying climate change mitigation.
2.0 Open Source Product Development 
An open source product development, licensing andfinancing/commercialization regime for sustainable technologies complements ourcurrent intellectual property regime and overcomes the transaction costs of gridlockand provides a full portfolio of options for sustainable technology access through
commons-based peer production
. The open source product development modelprovides an open environment that encourages local competences in individual andsocial capacity, knowledge and know-how while providing necessary licensing forhardware and promoting local entrepreneurship and small business creation. Thismodel is exemplified by the Wikimedia Foundation that coordinates the immenselysuccessful Wikipedia encyclopedia and the Apache Software Foundation thatcoordinates the Apache HTTP Server project which comprises a core competence of the majority of information technology firms and has been the most widely usedserver software since 1996 with over 100 million corporate, government andindividual users.
All projects are maintained by a core team that coordinatescontributions from thousands of collaborators from around the world. The opensource business then facilitates the manufacture and distribution of the end productwhile allowing any other entity to use the open source designs and methods. Oftenprivate business finds that the benefits of an open development communityoutweigh the costs of not having a proprietary monopoly on the product’sintellectual property and they decide to leverage the power of crowds and thecommons.
Srinivas, Krishna Ravi. 2009.
Climate Change, Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property.
 (accessed December 9, 2009).
Murray, F., and S. Stern. 2005.
 Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of ScientificKnowledge? An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis.
NBER Working Paper no. 11465. Cambridge,Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research.Http://www.nber.org/papers/W11465
(accessed December 9, 2009).
Heller, Michael. 2008.
The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets,Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives.
New York: Basic Books.
Netcraft Inc. 2009. November 2009 Web Server Survey. Netcraft News.http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html
(accessed December 9, 2009).
2.1 Not Just Software
 Today, as part of the open design and open source hardware movementmany projects and developer communities exist to develop hardware. These includethe popular Arduino microelectronics prototyping platform, Potters for Peace’s $15nanosilver water filter, Sun Microsystem’s OpenSPARC T1 multicore processor andFactor E Farm’s Liberator, a hydraulic-ram compressed earth block press for rapidsustainable building construction using local materials that is sold for one fourth theprice of the leading competitor’s proprietary press. The unconventional savings of open source hardware are due to the
nature of the product’s developmentand the lack of rent charged for the proprietary knowledge embedded in theproduct.Open source products are developed in collaborative communities, free touse and remix by other for-profit business, low-cost relative to their proprietarycompetitors, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
3.0 The ArkFab Innovation Foundation
 The ArkFab Innovation Foundation harnesses an emerging global network of collaborative expertise and open source sustainable technologies development toprovide local entrepreneurs access to the tools and resources they need to rapidlyadapt their communities to continuously shifting landscapes of risk in our complexsociety. The Foundation’s community innovation system stimulates commons-basedpeer production in at-risk communities with cost effective local ArkFab InnovationCenters. These community innovation centers are comprised of 
ArkFab Power
, a locally sourced carbon-negative power generationsystem
ArkFab Lab
, a digital flexible fabrication prototyping, manufacturingand cloud supercomputing facility
and the
ArkFab Endowment
, a revolving loan fund that providesmesofinance start-up capital for new for-profit environmentalenterprise while funneling incoming returns on investment towardsresearch and development grants, educational and vocationalprogramming, and local not-for profit social enterpriseBy building a global network of distributed ArkFab Innovation Centers thatprovide access to the resources potential entrepreneurs and innovators need wecreate a system of community innovation that will generate locally relevant andculturally and economically appropriate technological and business. The ArkFabInnovation Centers focus primarily on developing local knowledge and financialindependence with programming with our local partners that encouragesentrepreneurship, small business development, cutting-edge vocational training,and high-tech infrastructure development for the community. For example, we workwith local technical colleges to provide vocational training in small-scale flexibledigital fabrication and design and small ecological manufacturing businessmanagement.

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