innovation

Data sharing: Access all areas

Advocates say that open science will be good for innovation. One neuroscience institute plans to put that to the test.

In the cut-throat world of early-stage clinical development, where aggressive defence of data and intellectual property is thought to be key to amassing profits, one academic institute is opting out.

Over the next five years, McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (the Neuro) in Canada will conduct a radical experiment in open science. It will make all results, data and publications from its research free to access, will require collaborators to do the same, and, perhaps most surprisingly, will not pursue patents on any of its discoveries. Read more in Nature.

What can ‘frugal innovation’ do for development?

Last summer, Jessica VanderGiessen did something unusual. The bioengineering student from Santa Clara University in California, United States, spent two days travelling the rough dirt roads of West Bengal state in India, testing the drinking water in rural villages for arsenic contamination.

But instead of taking water samples back to a distant lab for analysis, VanderGiessen simply put a drop of water onto a plastic chip containing three electrodes. A miniature electrochemical analyser then processed and displayed the results on an Android tablet computer within seconds.

The trip was part of a project that VanderGiessen is working on with her university’s Frugal Innovation Lab, a programme in the engineering department that seeks cheap, rugged ways to overcome problems in the developing world and at home. She was examining a prototype of a portable device to quickly test water for arsenic contamination in the field — designed and built by her student colleagues. Read more in SciDev.Net.

Canada’s CIDA reform could aid innovation work

Innovation and technology development could be boosted by the controversial merger of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the country’s foreign affairs department, according to the head of a group that represents Canadian NGOs.

But CIDA should be careful not to neglect development at the expense of foreign affairs and trade interests through the new arrangement, says Julia Sánchez, CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC). Read more in SciDev.Net.