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= Biological Innovation for Open Society



Janet Hope:

"Biological Innovation for Open Society (“BIOS”) was an initiative of CAMBIA (Center for Application of Molecular Biology in International Agriculture), an independent non-profit research institute formerly based in Canberra, Australia.

The BIOS initiative, launched in 2005, incorporated:

•the “Patent Lens,” a searchable patent database containing ancillary information and tutorials;

•“BioForge,” a portal modelled on the open source software collaboration site; and

•“Biological Open Source” (“BiOS”) licensing of some elements of CAMBIA’s own patent portfolio.

Under the BiOS licences, products derived from the licensed technology could be patented and commercialized subject to a number of constraints. These included a requirement that a broadly defined class of improvements be non-exclusively granted back to CAMBIA.

CAMBIA’s BiOS licenses explicitly invoked the language of open source, and for a time the initiative was widely regarded as the world’s first working prototype of open source biotechnology R&D.

However, CAMBIA’s own website cautioned against treating open source as anything more than a metaphor in this case - and in fact, the terms of the BiOS licences diverged in key respects from the institutional logic of open source.

In particular, they gave CAMBIA much more control over the actions of follow-on innovators than would have been compatible with established standards for open source software licensing. These standards are designed, in part, to protect contributors to an open source collaboration from exploitation by the project leader (in this case, CAMBIA). Perhaps for this reason, BiOS licences do not appear to have enjoyed significant uptake.

As of early 2009, CAMBIA is relocating to the Queensland Institute of Technology." (

More Information

Related open biology developments: overview of 'Open Biology' developments, at,1286,66545,00.html; "BIOS will soon launch an open-source platform that promises to free up rights to patented DNA sequences and the methods needed to manipulate biological material. Users must only follow BIOS' "rules of engagement," which are similar to those used by the open-source software community. (,1286,66289,00.html?)

This article explains why Open Biology is a good idea, also for security reasons, at

The Bioinformatics Dot Org initiative,