2.2 Accelerated Innovation

Creating Efficiencies

Open Science offers opportunities to increase the rate of scientific discovery.

For example, in drug development, frequently multiple researchers and companies are developing very similar drugs to address the same issue, with each research team or company drug trial running independently of the next and little to no disclosure of what they're testing. Working in isolation limits the size of the trials, increasing bias while simultaneously increasing overhead as similar approaches are independently generated and trialed. During COVID, the open publication of vaccine related data helped to limit redundancies and allow researchers to quickly propose novel solutions.

In other contexts, the publication and dissemination of reproducible workflows and non-significant findings means replication studies to support the evidence base are more easily undertaken while known failed attempts at discovering true relationships between phenomena can be added to a researchers 'No need to investigate this…' list.

In short OS…

Solidifies the foundation of scientific knowledge
As reproducible, robust research can be understood and replicated more easily.

Has the potential to make the research process more efficient
As data, methods, analytical techniques, and code can be reused.

Limits unnecessary or redundant research
As the publication of studies that include both successful and failed techniques helps others to avoid wasting time and energy.

From Patents to Open Science

But let's take this back a bit and ask, why is science closed in the first place?

On a practical level, research in the lab can lead to industrial applications, whether it's a new vaccine, a drone that uses remote sensing technology to identify tree species, or a solar-powered train. In many cases, creators of such applications - or the organizations that employ them - will apply for a patent, a legal document that gives them the sole right to manufacture and sell the product - their intellectual property.

So, in many ways in modern history, patents, first issued in the 15th century, helped to close off science. Under patent law, only the inventor can improve the product. This limits the ability of society at large to explore and expand on the techniques and technologies applied.

The restriction of scientific knowledge throughout Western history is certainly more nuanced than this, but it is interesting to note that in spite of efforts to increase access to information - through public education and public libraries for example - the distribution and use of existing knowledge or discoveries remains tightly bound to a specific economic model.

In contrast, when we open up our practices to share intellectual property, we allow for accelerated innovation, which means less expensive industrial products that take less time to get to market.

Open Source Design and Accelerated Production of Medical Grade Face Shields at UBCO

Accelerated innovation is driven by both shared knowledge and shared tools of production.

makerspace UBCO offers equipment and peer assistance to turn ideas into prototyped realities. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit early in 2020, health workers on the front lines faced a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Under the guidance of Cortney Chulo, makerspace manager, the makerspace partnered with the School of Engineering and with the Interior Health Authority to produce face shields for health workers using the makerspace's 3D printers, open-source designs, and improvements suggested by the engineering students to meet Interior Health specifications.

The team looked at the following open source designs on the Web, combining the best points of each and making some additional changes of their own:

Read more about the makerspace project at https://news.ok.ubc.ca/2020/04/16/ubco-teams-up-with-community-partners-to-design-medical-ppe/