09 Jul New collaboration between the industry and Aarhus University to accelerate innovation
Aarhus University, together with a number of leading Danish industrial companies, has started an effort to slow down the rise in patents in a new collaboration on industrially relevant basic research. From the innovative Open Science platform, researchers and companies from all over the country provide all their results and data available free and openly to all interested. Among the companies in the new collaboration are several Destination AARhus partners.
The Open Science platform is a showdown with the barriers that make it difficult and costly for companies to gain access – or knowledge – to the part of the university’s basic research that is relevant to them. At the same time, it offers a new answer to several of the major challenges facing basic research, not least in Denmark: that researchers and donors increasingly focus on ensuring and prioritizing research projects that are unable to pay long-term term.
The platform, created with support from Industriens Fond, combines basic research with industrial innovation in a completely new way that ensures that industry and universities benefit more from each other’s knowledge and technology. University researchers and companies collaborate cross-cutting to create fundamental new knowledge that is continually made available to everyone – and no-one can patent. On the other hand, anyone can then freely use this knowledge to develop and patent their own unique products.
A battle for risk tolerance
Dean of Science and Technology at Aarhus University, Niels Chr. Nielsen sees the Open Science platform as a strong response to several of the research and business’ – and thus society’s – major challenges.
“Public and private institutions and foundations protect their research investments by investing in “safe” knowledge. Either by favoring applied research with a high probability of commercial success or by ensuring that our research centers run on solidly paved milestone charts that control the flow of money and time – but that does not allow space to explore unexpected opportunities that occur in the process,” he says, and adds:
“The paradox seems to be that we do not like to invest in the wild or complex ideas because of the high risk that they will not turn into anything. But at the same time, we as a society cannot afford our universities to become factories that work with small and self-evident ideas.”
The idea of cooperating in such a patent-free zone has attracted a great deal of interest in the industry, including companies that otherwise use some resources to protect their intellectual property rights.
The first Open Science platform focuses on smart materials and currently includes 20 small and large companies, including Danish industrial warehousing vessels such as ECCO, LEGO, Velux, Vestas, Grundfos, SP Group and Terma. In addition to researchers from the departments of Chemistry, Physics and Engineering at Aarhus University And all the other universities of the country.
Patent-free zone – and a movement
“Open Science becomes a playground where companies and universities can try ideas without running out of big risks; They can relatively risky move out of their normal frame and try something new. It is not least interesting for small and medium-sized enterprises, few of which have experience with research-based development. And when the participants with the Open Science platform get access to the latest university research, they can provide a basis for creating unique products with increased market potential,” says the author of the project, Professor Kim Daasbjerg from iNANO, who is also at the forefront of the platform.
He adds that the idea of Open Science in this form is not anchored at Aarhus University. Open Science is a movement, like open source, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing.
“It’s free to other research communities to imitate and copy-paste our model. We hope we will happen. With the speed that the project has spread so far, I predict that Open Science can have the same effect on basic science’s ecosystem that internet streaming has had on the music and film industry,” Kim Daasbjerg explains.
Expensive patents and journals
The Open Science platform thus constitutes the seeds of several paradigm shifts; It is thus both a breach of the university’s focus on patenting their researchers’ discoveries, and it is a conscious outline of the business journals of the scientific journals.
“Patents and sale of licenses a deficit business for most universities. In addition, the Research Patents Act has not taken into account Open Science, where basic research takes place in a melting pot before you know if there is any business out of it,” Kim Daasbjerg explains.
New industry breakdown
Also for the industrial participants, the Open Science platform is a new break.
From VELUX, Kristian Møller Kristensen, Head of Product and Process Technology, describes the collaboration as opening a window to basic research in a different way than the company has previously done:
“It’s about taking industrial development in the direction we need, and not waiting for others to do that. It requires greater visibility than we are used to working in. We are fully aware that 99 per cent. Of the world’s most talented people do not work at VELUX. We need to find someone who can help us move on, and in Open Science, other skilled people can just join in.”
Support from Industriens Fond
Industriens Fond has chosen to support the Open Science platform by 2.5 million. DKK to pave the way for a user-friendly platform that can make research results easier for Danish business.
“It contributes to companies’ innovation power and can also help to increase the interaction between researchers, students and the companies involved. By creating a platform that structures knowledge sharing in a way that addresses a number of practical and legal challenges, it will also be possible for smaller companies to join companies that have historically encountered economic or cultural barriers in relation to Collaborate and share data and knowledge,” says Managing Director of Industry Fund, Mads Lebech.