Open-source in biotechnology: a revolution for intellectual property

A Biotech Talk with Osmat Jefferson, Director of Application Development at LENS.ORG

Patenting is surely a big game in Biotech and science generally, as some open-source initiatives have started to question whether such a choice is sustainable and whether they are other productive models for society? As I was looking for a contact at, I came across Osmat Jefferson LinkedIn profile. At that time we needed to find an open-source technology to develop our product pipeline and Cambia has provided several of these technologies under BiOS (biological innovation based on open society) licenses. Open-source and DIY Biology is part of the DNA of Tiamat Sciences, the project is born in the community lab ReaGent and we strongly believe that science should be accessible to everyone. Osmat has been a principal scientist at for 15 years and although no longer working in a lab, she has considerable experience in open-source biotechnology, and she agreed to be interviewed on the matter of open-source in Biotech. France-Emmanuelle Adil - Tiamat CEO

Can you introduce yourself?

I am the director of application development at is a public benefit company that is owned by Cambia, a social enterprise, and Queensland University of technology. The Lens team is building an open platform for innovation cartography.  By serving nearly all the global patents as annotated public goods integrated with scholarly and technical information, we strive to expand the demographics of problem solving so that collectively, we can make the innovation system more fair, equitable, transparent and inclusive. The purpose of my role is to lead a Lens team to design and implement applications that would make the scientific and patent knowledge behind the two data corpora and their linkages, and soon other innovation knowledge, open and public to inspire, inform productive partnerships, and help entrepreneurs, citizens and policymakers find their own solutions.

“I believe that science is a public good which means that scientific knowledge is not rivalrous or exclusive.”

What do you think about patents?

A patent is a bargain between a government and an inventor. In exchange of getting a monopoly for a certain limited time, the inventor fully discloses their invention to enable those skilled in the art to reproduce it.  So, the government uses the patent as an economic incentive to encourage investment, boost innovation, and serve the public interest. This is the basis of having patents in an economy, as I understand it.

But over time, that concept has changed mainly because of the (…)

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