10 August 2017
Aarhus
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Aarhus University champions ‘patent free’ research zone


Aarhus University, along with leading Danish industrial companies including Lego, has created the Open Science platform in a move away from the patenting ‘rat race’.

The platform, funded by the Danish Industry Foundation, will allow university researchers and private companies to collaborate on projects that neither party will be able to patent. Research will be shared and be free to use.

Dean Niels Nielsen of Aarhus University said the platform is a strong response to major challenges in the research and business sectors.

He said: “Public and private institutions and foundations protect their research investments by focusing on safe bets. Either by favouring applied research with a high probability of commercial success, or by ensuring that our research centres keep to clearly defined benchmarks that control the flow of funds and time—but do not allow room to explore unexpected opportunities that arise during the process.”

Nielsen added: “The paradox seems to be that we don’t like investing in unorthodox or complex ideas because of the high risk that they won’t eventuate. At the same time, however, society can’t afford to turn our universities into factories that are occupied with small and self-evident ideas.”

The platform has attracted “enormous interest” from parties that would otherwise use considerable resources protecting their IP rights, according to Aarhus University.

Professor Kim Daasbjerg, who is responsible for the platform, said: “Open Science will be a playground where companies and universities can try out their ideas without taking major risks.

“They can venture out of their normal surroundings and try new things relatively risk-free.”

“Patents and sales of licences run at a loss for most universities. In addition, the Danish Patents Act does not allow for Open Science, where basic research is carried out in a melting pot before you know whether any business can come out of it.”

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