[okfn-advisory] fund-raising idea for OKF

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Sat Dec 5 09:35:12 UTC 2009

I would be very interested in this idea having worked in the pharma
industry. I don't have very concrete ideas but will comment. My contacts -
such as they are - are in the chemical domain and that is more conservative.

I would expect that our approach would initially depend on the contacts we
have and how open-looking they are prepared to be.

On Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 7:04 PM, Peter Suber <peter.suber at gmail.com> wrote:

> First, OKF could launch a project on the "pre-competitive sharing" of
> pharma data.  It could collect info on the company initiatives already under
> way, develop guidelines for other companies, and so on. This much seems very
> compatible with the current OKF mission.  Call it Phase 1.
 I agree with this - it's obviously considerable work and I am wondering
whether there is synergy with other bodies. I suecpt that we would need some
funding for this.

Then OKF could launch a membership organization, or membership branch of the
> existing organization, to coordinate the different initiatives and work
> toward the interoperability of the many different data sets.  Call this
> Phase 2.
> This  would definitely require funding. It is possible thatw e could get
in-kind contributions from pharma but it's a lot of coordination.

The rationale should be clear:  these companies have a lot of money;

(but less than they had... and I get the feeling that there is a reduced
funding attitude).

they have their reasons for the pre-competitive sharing of data and we
> should support that sharing even if we'd like to criticize the same
> companies for failing to share at other stages of their research and
> development; their individual initiatives are (as far as I know)
> uncoordinated and do not have the synergy they would have if interoperable;
> and OKF could easily position itself as a neutral party with expertise in
> data sharing and interoperability.  My hunch is that all the companies would
> benefit from making these data interoperable, would see that they would
> benefit, and would be willing to pay OKF to make it happen.  I also suspect
> that as the project moved forward, its benefits would attract other drug
> companies to participate.

Yes - there is certainly an element of herd-like behaviour.

> If this works, then Phase 3 would generalize the idea beyond the pharma
> industry, and try to pry loose open datasets from other industries and make
> them equally useful.
> I would concentrate on pharma first of all - different domains have very
different dynamics. There are clear moral, ethical, political and
utilitarian aspects of the pharma industry which are less clear in - say -
consumer goods.

> Perhaps as another part of Phase 1, OKF could launch a working group on
> open access to industrial data.

Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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