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For other uses, see Cambia.
Cambia logo.png
Founded 1992
Founder Richard Anthony Jefferson

Non-Governmental Organization with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Not-for-profit organization with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.[1]
Focus Open innovation, life sciences, intellectual property
Slogan Enabling innovation

Cambia is an Australian non-profit organization focusing on open science, biology, and intellectual property. Its projects include the Patent Lens, its replacement The Lens, and the Biological Innovation for Open Society Initiative.

Cambia derives its name from the Spanish verb cambiar, to change.[citation needed]


Cambia was established in 1992 by Richard Anthony Jefferson, a leading molecular biologist responsible for the invention of the GUS reporter system. Jefferson describes his vision to found a non-profit organization in Innovations,[2] to provide more efficient and effective tools to solve the problems of agriculture and society.

In 1992, Jefferson relocated to Canberra, Australia, to oversee the Rockefeller Foundation's rice biotechnology network in Asia. During this time, Jefferson and his team visited hundreds of laboratories to help develop, improve, and apply biotechnology capabilities, particularly pertaining to rice. Cambia offered scientific courses and workshops, and increasing assistance in Intellectual Property management.

Over time Cambia's focus moved away from biotechnology and towards Intellectual Property. The Patent Lens and its successor The Lens are now the primary focus of Cambia. Cambia's goal has always been to enable innovation and their move towards free and open tools that help people understand intellectual property landscapes is a continuation of those values. In this way they have changed from a research institute into a strategic system-changing social enterprise.


Cambia's endeavors to freely distribute scientific tools and techniques gave rise to the Biological Open Source (BiOS) Initiative in 2005. Through an open-source biotechnology license and Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), BiOS seeks to establish freedom to operate for innovators. BiOS was built on the back of Jefferson's discovery of the GUS reporter system and the creation of TransBacter,[3] a work-around for the creation of transgenic plants without using the highly patented Agrobacterium genus.[4]

A primary project of Cambia is the free full-text online patent search facility and knowledge resource, The Lens (previously the Patent Lens). Launched in 2000, the Patent Lens allowed free searching of almost 10 million full-text patent documents. It was distinguished as being the only not-for-profit facility of its kind, with international coverage and integrated links to non-patent literature. The Lens was launched in 2013 as the successor to the Patent Lens, making huge strides in the visual presentation of patent analysis and workspace management. It also features a biological facility with a number of advanced tools for searching and analysing sequences found in patents.


Cambia is social enterprise, and is a registered Non-Governmental Organization with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Within Australia, Cambia is registered with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

Cambia’s governance is overseen by a Board of Directors,[5] according to its constitution.[6]


As of July 2012, Cambia now operates principally from headquarters in Canberra, ACT at the NICTA (National ICT Australia) facility, with some staff based in Brisbane, Australia, at the Queensland University of Technology. Before its move to Brisbane in 2008, where it operated for four years, Cambia was located on the Black Mountain research campus of the CSIRO. Its glasshouse facilities were housed at the Australian National University campus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cambia's Structure". Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  2. ^ Jefferson, Richard (Fall 2006). "Science as Social Enterprise: The CAMBIA BiOS Initiative" (PDF). Innovations 1 (4): 13–44. doi:10.1162/itgg.2006.1.4.13. Retrieved 2010-01-06. 
  3. ^ "TransBacter Project". Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  4. ^ Broothaerts, Wim; Heidi J. Mitchell; Brian Weir; Sarah Kaines; Leon M.A. Smith; Wei Jang; Jorge E. Mayer; Carolina Roa-Rodriguez; Richard A. Jefferson (2005-02-10). "Gene transfer to plants by diverse species of bacteria". Nature 433 (7026): 629–633. doi:10.1038/nature03309. PMID 15703747. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  5. ^ "Cambia Board of Directors". Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  6. ^ "Constitution of Cambia - A Company Limited by Guarantee". Retrieved 2010-01-10. 

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