Richard Jefferson

Year founded: 

Cambia’s mission is to democratize innovation, creating a more equitable and inclusive capability to solve problems using science and technology.

Focus: Innovation, Agriculture, Health, Technology, Intellectual Property, Science
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Annual Budget: US$ 2.8 million (2010)
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

Science coupled with human creativity and generosity is potentially the greatest tool for social enterprise. However, the use of science to inform and guide equitable and inclusive problem solving in food and agriculture, health, ecology and environmental management depends on empowering and engaging more problem solvers. The use of processes to improve our crops, livestock, environment and health is increasingly problematic, legally cumbersome and risky. Innovation based on new life sciences is becoming grossly inefficient, driving up costs, raising uncertainty and excluding small enterprise.

Innovation and Activities
Cambia is the founder of the biological open source movement, a creative force exploring new science-enabled innovation ecologies, and the pioneer of “innovation cartography” to create global clarity and transparency in patent and innovation systems. CambiaLabs was the first public-good, biotechnological enterprise to successfully focus on creating new technologies for open and collaborative research-based innovation. It developed the Patent Lens as a platform to forge and share these activities, which for a decade has been the leading independent, non-profit global, open-access patent searching facility.

Through its Biological Open Source (BiOS) initiative, Cambia catalyses innovators worldwide to better address local or global challenges by sharing science as a key part of the innovation process. BiOS explores, applies and extends these lessons and concepts to: problems affecting the world’s disadvantaged; neglected priorities; market failures; or new opportunities amenable to science-enabled innovation, such as climate change. By focusing on the platforms and tools of biological innovation, and the norms and legal instruments that govern their use, BiOS creates new innovation models and efficiencies.

Cambia enables decentralized, cooperative innovation by merging intellectual property informatics and analysis, innovation system structural reform, new legal and business instruments, and open access technology development. For the last 15 years it has invented and distributed enabling biotechnologies, and created the first open patent licensing communities around them.

Cambia believes these opportunities transcend sectoral boundaries, and will impact business and innovation on all scales. Opening the innovation ecology will build confidence, increase transparency and inclusiveness and generate new efficiencies in all fields of science and technology-enabled innovation. In an economic crisis, public and private investments require a firm foundation, and routes to market delivery must be transparent and affordable. To enable this, Cambia founded the Initiative for Open Innovation (IOI) to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and equity of science enabled innovation for the public good. Based on this foundation and using Web 2.0 technology, the IOI will make patents and innovation information more transparent, create a sound evidence basis for policy and practice, and provide free navigation and decision support for enterprises in all sectors to more effectively see their efforts impact society and public good.

The Entrepreneur
Richard Jefferson is a prominent molecular biologist and plant scientist. He is changing traditional ideas about genetics and intellectual property, and revolutionizing the way in which molecular biologists are seen, as agents of social change. He is among the most cited authors in plant science, who once faced the tough decision of becoming a professional musician or scientist. He ultimately chose science but constantly questions his sanity in doing so instead of juggling, playing the guitar and mandolin, or performing comedy.