Synthetic Biology and Intellectual Property in Australia

Project: Research

Project Details


Australia is investing in synthetic biology research, and has an opportunity now, early in the development of this field, to invest in thinking about how the science will be owned and accessed. This project will study intellectual property (IP)’s interaction with synthetic biology research in Australia, with a view to maximising its beneficial impact. The goal of the IP system is to foster innovation. But in some areas of technology, IP has been perceived to slow down innovation and cause fields of research to be entangled in patent thickets or inaccessible due to licensing fees, technologies to be difficult to commercialise and products to become expensive for end-users like patients. This project will examine whether IP system is likely to operate in such an inhibitory fashion in relation to synthetic biology research in Australia, and explore possible solutions.
The project will use legal and policy research to develop recommendations to support the Future Science Platform’s Maximising Impact Application Domain. It will map the research landscape for synthetic biology in Australia, map the patent environment in the Foundation Technologies Application Domain (and potentially other domains), analyse patent examination and granting practices, and conduct a survey and interviews with stakeholders including scientists, technology transfer officers and legal managers.
This project will also investigate ‘sharing’ and ‘commons’ initiatives in scientific research. There are strong reasons to keep foundational tools and techniques in synthetic biology in the public domain, and this project will query how these interact with the drivers of intellectual property and commercialisation.
The project will generate an understanding of the impact of IP on Australian innovation in synthetic biology and translation of research into beneficial impact, identify reforms needed in IP law, practice and policy, and identify factors that are important in developing infrastructure for sharing synthetic biology data in Australia.

Effective start/end date6/08/186/01/22


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