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Gamification helps orphaned intellectual property find a home

Gamification helps orphaned intellectual property find a home

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Jun 20, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Gamification helps orphaned intellectualproperty find a home
British PhDs are trying to reward tech transfer with "marbles". Andownership.
 - June 20 2012, 8:00pm CST
From disrupting the peer-reviewed journal publishing tradition to utilizing a dispersed model to test code,the academy has been trying out new ways of  innovating an overburdened scholarly apparatus using technology.One of the latest areas to see this sort of experimentation is that of IP, orintellectual property.Marblar,a startup launched by three British PhD students, is hoping to successfullycrowdsource the resurrection of "dormant" IP, to flatten and widen the process of 
tech transfer. A major British venture capital firm, IP Group,has invested about $600,000 in the startup.Tech transfer is the process of finding sustainable, real world use for academicresearch, including commercializing it. Most universities have departments, evenentire research parks, devoted spinning off companies from the in-house researchof their professors.But scientists are busy beavers and "95-99% of university innovations just sit on ashelf not doing anything," say the founders of Marblar, Daniel Perez (Oxford),Mehmet Fidanboylu (King's College London), and Gabriel Mecklenburg (ImperialCollege London). "As outsiders to tech transfer we found it odd that the processwas so closed and parochial. There are simply too few voices in the conversation,and as a result incredible science gets left behind."Given that only about five percent of research funds in the United States are made back through the commercialization of resultant research, it does seem like there isa market for this sort of product.Their solution was to gamify the process of tech transfer.With Marblar, scientists post their research as a "challenge." The Marblarcommunity (Marblars) "work toward finding novel ways of exploiting theinventor's discovery." Those in the community whose ideas are used are awardedthe equivalent of badges (marbles) and some may receive cash and partial equity inany firm that takes flight due to their suggestions.Marblar has run a beta in conjunction with Prof. Tom Brown of the University of Southampton and IP Group. Brown offered up DNA Click Ligation, "a piece of molecular biology tech" which can unite DNA strands chemically, without needfor an enzyme, and issued a challenge for participants to find new ways of using it."We put it online and got some really neat responses so that the sponsors of thecompetition may well have two new start-up ideas around the tech," said the team.IP Group and Brown are in discussions with Luke Edelmann, the first place winnerand Cambridge University student, about possibly funding a company based on hisidea, which "involves solving a problem inherent to screen DNA drugs," accordingto Mecklenburg, to be built on Brown's work. The second-place winner, also aCambridge student, is in similar discussions surrounding his use of Brown's DNAClick Ligation to solve a problem in synthetic drug production.

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