[open-science] Outlining the argument for open commercialization

Greg Austic gbathree at gmail.com
Thu Jun 20 12:29:57 UTC 2013

Thank you everyone for your comments, help, slides, and suggestions!

Re Florence - I'm using the words "open commercialization" not to exclude
other words, but simply because that's the broadest terms I can put it in.
Commercialization just means making a technology available to a market (end
users)... so that's a very broad definition and leaves it up to the person
doing the work how that process is organized, if it's for profit, etc.  So
to me all the great work done in the collaborative economy completely fits
into that definition.  However, so do awesome projects like publiclab.org,
which is a traditional non-profit but is definitely commercialization
technology and developing platforms to engage citizens in science, or
Arduino or Raspberry Pi which make money from a product but do not hold
exclusive rights to the hardware or software (though they do trademark the

As in all cases, there are shades of openness, and if we could get
universities in the US to move an inch in that direction it'd be a huge
plus.  Perhaps some folks on the list don't know, but in the US most
(though not all) universities requires professors, researchers, grad
students, post docs, etc. to sign away their intellectual property rights
when they start working.  So technology development decisions are basically
in the hands of the tech transfer department (created through Bay Dohl act
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayh%E2%80%93Dole_Act), which most often
leads nowhere, and occasionally leads to a patent which even more rarely
leads to a product usually drowns in the cost of it's own IP.  The main
site for accumulating this information is here:
http://www.autm.net/source/STATT/index.cfm?section=STATT , but of course
you have to pay to get the data :)

In addition, Universities (both public and private) in the US are
constantly fighting for more funds, as public funding is dropping like a
stone.  There is an increasing reliance on external funding, and an
expectation that anything which is done within the university MUST bring in
additional money from outside to be considered at all.  So that puts a lot
of pressure on open commercialization models because it's somewhat hard to
argue they will generate more money, though there are many many other
benefits (PR and branding, decrease costs, more consistent with the core
values of the U, higher impact, etc. etc.) which others like Pawel have
outlined.  It's possible to argue that you can get more grant money by
opening up a project, but again we need lots of examples to be convincing.

Sorry for the rant... but if we could really reinforce this argument
effectively with case examples especially those relating to funding and
especially ones from the literature as Mat said then we'd have a better
chance.  And it only makes sense to share that argument and examples, as
this argument will be in large part the same everywhere.

Building this argument will take some time, and it may not be structured
effectively in the google doc now (it's a bit of a mess), so feel free to
jump in and make it better.



On Tue, Jun 18, 2013 at 2:45 PM, Greg Austic <gbathree at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm a researcher at Michigan State University and am putting together a
> presentation to promote the concept of open commercialization (bringing
> technology to market without IP) to admin higher-ups  and I'd like your
> help.
> *I am looking for more examples to strengthen and simplify the arguments
> for open commercialization (no intellectual property) versus traditional
> commercialization*.  Ultimately, I would like to see this outline as
> something that anyone can use to make a similar pitch at other universities.
> If you'd like to help, please read through the outline<https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v4bs4SfWk39UmMtxYYeW4DZwEE7lsFHGqoPMIy--C68/edit?usp=sharing>in google docsand add arguments, examples, and links wherever you see fit.  I've already
> noted many places in the outline where I think specific examples would be
> valuable.
> *Please please share this with other people or lists that you think may
> be helpful!*
> I think that the time is ripe for making this argument, and Universities
> may be ready to consider moving back towards a truly open model of
> information.  Thanks so much for your help!
> --
> Greg Austic
> PS - If you're interested in our specific project it's www.photosynq.org.

Greg Austic

2198 Seminole Dr.
Okemos, MI 48864
(919) 545 1083

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