Access and openness in biotechnology research collaborations between universities and industry
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNature Biotechnology. 2019, 37 (12), 1413-1419. 10.1038/s41587-019-0324-7
Biotechnology research can spawn broadly useful technology research platforms such as CRISPR/Cas9, which has frequently been criticised as a knowledge monopoly. The access to such technology can be restricted, and utilisation of research results depends on the contractual provisions devised by the owners of the technology. It is therefore imperative to better understand the conditions under which knowledge monopolies are likely to emerge. Based on the analysis of 162 publicly funded collaborative research projects in biotechnology, we identify contractual provisions that govern the extent of access to and openness of research results. We evaluate how the project participants in free negotiations agree on ownership and user rights from intellectual property, as well as on confidentiality and publication rights. We develop a framework that identifies four cases – knowledge monopoly, attenuated monopoly, closed circle, and open science – that can help unravel the complicated contractual provisions and their interrelationships. The framework allows both policy makers and funding bodies to assess the likelihood of emerging knowledge monopolies ex-ante in order to assess the norms of open science versus the utilisation of the research results.