Jay Keasling, a chemical engineer at the University of California at Berkeley, snagged an award a few years ago for adopting an idea from the tech industry.
Keasling helped set up an information-sharing system called “open-source biology.” The idea is that researchers share patents on small-scale inventions—or they don’t patent them at all, “just give them away as open source and patent only the high-level stuff, the big stuff.”
Pharmaceutical and biotech industries usually patent everything, but if they’re developing drugs for use in poor countries, nobody can afford them. So Keasling proposed continuing to patent big applications, full of integrated components, but leaving the components “open source.”
What great ideas can you transfer to your industry?
—Adapted from "Scientist of the Year," Discover.