Can crowdsourcing bring unused patents back from the dead?

  • Three PhD students in the UK have developed a platform called Marbles that aims to help universities resurrect dusty old patents.
  • The aim is to reverse the approach conventionally used to develop scientific research, which is based on trying to understand and find a solution for a problem.
  • The platform used the collective knowledge of participants – crowdsourcing – to come up with problems that an established technology could solve. The crowd is assigned the task of finding possible applications for existing inventions or patents.
  • The platform works through crowdsourcing competitions, like the X-Prize, which ask people to come up with technological solutions to a problem, cultivating a base of knowledgeable users who would submit ideas in exchange for a cash prize and points on the site (marbles).

The approach is hoped to reduce the cost necessary for scientific research by prolonging the life of existing inventions and preventing investment into research that has been previously done.

About Joao Delgado

Joao is a Research Fellow in Futures Research and leads on medium-large scale futures projects at CERF. Amongst other projects, he has led the development of scenarios for the future of river basin management for the Environment Agency. His professional interests include veterinary science, epidemiology, risk and systems thinking.
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