The concept of opening up one's intellectual property to a crowd of inventors and innovators took a knock with the announcement that Quirky was filing for bankruptcy earlier this year.
The news hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of organizations wishing to go down that path however. One such organization is the drug company AstraZeneca, which is hoping to tap into the wisdom of the crowd to help discover new cancer drugs.
The Dream Challenge
The drug giant is releasing preclinical data for more than 50 of its medicines, with the publication believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.
It includes roughly 11,000 combinations that have previously been tested for their ability to attack cancer cells, and the data will be matched up with that from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
The hope is that having fresh eyes looking over the data will allow the kind of recombinative innovation that is so crucial to many advances today.
The move is part of the company’s wider DREAM Challenge, which is an open innovation effort involving academics, drug companies, and universities to try to strike upon fresh ways of using data in the drug development process.
The company has teamed up with the Nature Biotechnology journal, who have agreed to publish the work of participants whose new cancer drug combinations are selected.
“This open innovation research initiative complements our own efforts brilliantly and we are delighted that the findings could be published for the benefit of the global scientific community,” AstraZeneca says.
It’s further evidence of the increasingly open approach to innovation adopted by the pharma industry. I’ve written previously about the open labs concept pioneered by GSK.
The Open Lab concept was formed upon the realization that many of the challenges facing the research community are too great for single entities to solve on their own. The idea is that external researchers can go and work alongside GSK scientists on their own projects.
Plus of course, despite the failure of Quirky, there are still a number of projects out there that aim to help organizations better utilize the IP they possess.