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Science Marketplace for Research Tools, Services and Skills

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Editor:  Christopher Dyer
Authors :
21.02.2011 - Christopher Dyer  -  Sci-Mate   

What is a Scientific Material Transfer Environment? The Sci-MaTE is an online marketplace where academic scientists can promote AND control the distribution of any item of interest to other researchers, developers and Industry. There are a lot of "Items" developed in research that have value to other researchers or even commercially. The problem is that scientist generally don't have a lot of time to 'sell' these ideas, or even manage requests via email. The Sci-Mate addresses both of these issues by making it very easy to list something, and then providing automated document flows that streamline offers, notifications to other parties, and establish legitimate records of all conditions of exchange. Not only is it significantly easier to make material available, but IP is more secure when using these systems compared to relying on personal communications.

What can be listed? Research tools, technology transfer, items wanted, project proposals, consultancies, grants, prizes, jobs, public speaking, training, conferences, or seminars. "Items" can be either quickly exchanged, with minimum fuss, or negotiated with the intention of establishing partnership or collaborative agreements.

Is it an auction? No, requests are made, not bids, the supplier decides. While this process can be very simple, it can also involve extensive negotiations to establish collaborations and commercial transfers.

What would my supervisor, colleagues and technology transfer office say if I just listed something we all own? A key focus of Sci-Mate is to respect and protect the IP rights of shared owners. Supervisors, other controlling interests, and your Technology Transfer office will be informed of relevant exchanges. If the IP is commercial, your organization's technology manager, must approve the proposed listing. If you have any doubt about the consent of interested parties, you should of course ask them before listing.

How does an online marketplace for reseach tools fit in with existing scientific / academic publications? Academic journals generally focus on results and conclusions, while Sci-Mate focuses on the underlying technology. Opportunities generated by the publication of results, could be more easily captured by using these complimentary free services. Publications, for instance, generally focus on results and conclusions, while the Sci-Mate provides space for a full description of the tools and how they can be more broadly applied. Moreover, there is the chance to explain the conditions under which requests for limited material will be considered (eg. collaborative, or commercial).

Why 'list an item' and not just manage requests by email? Most successful researchers complain about the time spent emailing. A clear up-front description makes it easier for the right people to find you, and helps avoid time-wasters who don't understand the technology. In some cases, email and the telephone may still be the best way to negotiate collaborations or partnerships, but if this is not necessary, requests can be accepted or rejected by clicking on links. Unlike email, Sci-Mate provides a legitimate record of exchange to all relevant parties, which helps protect the intellectual property of scientists. Successfully manage your IP by email is difficult - managing IP via Sci-Mate is easy.

Why would I want to share my ideas, or tools with others? Jealously guarding something of potential value may help a dying breed of professors succeed for a while in a very small pond. Sci-Mate is not for you - although one day Sci-Mate will flood your world. For younger scientists wanting to do something worthwhile, your only real chance is through cooperation - and lots of it. In a world where Ideas are cheap and plentiful, those that succeed are those that get known and utilized. Sci-Mate is a way to let ideas florish while still keeping control of IP.

Does content have to be original, or can it be published elsewhere? Sci-mate item descriptions do not have to be original, nor exclusive. They must, of course, respect copyright and all relevant laws and protection of IP.

Can information be edited or deleted once submitted? Yes, information can be edited and updated by authors without restriction, and deleted at any time.

Can information be restricted to specific users or groups of users? Currently, materials can be restricted to users from specific organizations. This would allow, for example, Core Services to deliver items selectively to specific groups, such as is done by the German Cancer Research Center to its staff. We can expand this function further if the community sees it as useful.

How do I know if my technology is useful or worth anything? Simple - just list it for what you think it might be worth and measure the level of interest (and adjust the conditions based on supply and demand). It is not a bad idea to start low, develop demand. Once demand is demonstrated, clearer commercial decisions can be made by you and your technology transfer administrators.

Can non-academic researchers use the site? Of course they can. Any individual or organization with an interest in academic research is welcome to join as an industry representative, technology manager or with organizational membership.

How do I list something? Simply click "List Item" from the major function tabs and follow the instructions. It can help to have simple text pre-prepared, and an image if available.

Is this free? We're a community project. We believe that if scientist can be encouraged to cooperate using these tools, then there will plenty of benefits to share - to run the site and even flow back into research. However, first we need some pioneering scientists willing to demonstrate how to succeed in research using these new communication tools. Only with your support can we stay free. To support the project: join today, discuss it with your colleagues until they agree to let you list something cool, and then tell some friends.

  • This page was last modified 20:44, 21 February 2011.
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