How Open Systems and New Incentives Will Redefine Healthcare

We already knew that “sharing is caring”, but what about “sharing is curing”? Digital disruption might soon hit the established system of patents and publishing in biomedical industry and academia respectively – a system ruled by reward structures centered on property, career and commercial gains. The disruptor in this case is Stephen Friend, widely known as an authority in oncology and recently nominated a “Champion of Change” by the White House for his Sage Bionetworks. The Seattle based non-profit develops collaborative platforms based on the concept of “precompetitive commons”, a space ruled neither by industry nor academia. In this online, open access environment, biomedical researchers can convene, interact, exchange data sets and build upon one another’s work. Within the current system, characterised by a strong silo mentality, data are not shared unless they bring to a publication or product. As a consequence, important and valuable information is very often lost, or several research teams work on the same problems at the same time. This inefficiency leads to costs of $800 million for putting one single drug on the market, not to speak of the immense social costs for patients and society. At Falling Walls, Steven Friend explains his strategy to inspire a cultural shift as wide as the gap between common good and the individual interests of academic researchers, biotech labs and pharmaceutical companies.

Stephen Friend

SAGE Bionetworks, Seattle

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