Seeking a better approach to pharmaceutical
research and development.
tem, which allows anyone to access the
code, he saw an opportunity. He gave
away Goldcorp geological data going
back to 1948 and challenged the world
to find gold in his data. The world did.
New models for discerning ore, visualizing veins, and improving extraction
were submitted, along with 110 sites
to look for gold at Red Lake—half of
them unknown to Goldcorp. Stock purchased a year before and sold a year after McEwan’s decision tripled in value.
Goldcorp gave permission and in-
centives. It paid out $565 million, its
highest payout to two collaborating
The pharmaceutical industry could
benefit from this approach. A success-
ful new drug can cost upward of $800
5, 6 Uncertainty about winning
patent races means firms race to secure
intellectual property rights. Competi-
tors need patent shears to trim patent
5, 6 Yet the awful expense of
maintaining IP creates abandonment
problems due to the lag between costs
and revenues. Innovation slows8 while,
ironically, only 8% of pharma firms mea-
sure the value of their orphan patents.
Industries outside the IT sector have
shown the benefit permissionless innovation. One example is the Canadian firm Goldcorp, written off by analysts due to debt and high production
12 After decades of use, Goldcorp’s
Red Lake mine was underperforming.
In-house geologists could not locate
further gold deposits. When Goldcorp
CEO Rob McEwan heard an MIT presentation on the Linux operating sys-