Open collaborative system design : a strategic framework with application to synthetic biology
Author(s)Silver, Matthew Robin
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Edward F. Crawley.
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Across technology industries and particularly at the cutting edge of biotechnology a debate is under way about the proper balance between open and closed - between co-developing products with shared information and open standards, versus using more traditional, closed, proprietary processes. Beyond the relative success of open source software to date, it is not clear how and whether open design processes might be applied generally for complex, assembled technologies. This problem takes on special urgency within the domain of synthetic biology, an emerging discipline in which many practitioners advocate opening design and development through platforms such as the registry of standardized biological parts. Biotechnology is IP intensive in part because commercialization is complicated and capital intensive. How might one develop a sustainable open development process in this context? This thesis addresses these questions from an Engineering Systems perspective. Defining open, collaborative system development (OCSD) specifically as a process in which subsystems are created voluntarily by an unrestricted set of third-party contributors, it makes the following claim: An OCSD process can itself be designed, with the principal objective of creating an environment for third-party innovation. To support this claim the thesis outlines a conceptual framework to guide OCSD design. The framework includes a taxonomy of parameters and constraints relevant to opening design, a list of options within each taxonomic category, and three high level strategies found to recur as a function of sponsor goals and technological constraints. Finally, the thesis proposes a quantitative method, based on multidisciplinary modeling and pareto analysis, to design open standards within the context of one of the three strategies. The research is carried out through a pragmatic blend of case studies and quantitative modeling. First, an in-depth, multi-discipline literature review synthesizes relevant taxonomic categories. Thirteen examples of OCSD spanning nine industries are then analyzed to define options within each taxonomic category. The case studies are also used to identify strategies for opening design based on correlations between OCSD options. The framework is validated and expanded through an in-depth case study of the opening of Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) in the semi-conductor industry in the late 1970s. Finally, a quantitative method is developed to guide the design of open standards within one of the three strategies. These three contributions - the framework, correlated strategies, and quantitative method - are then applied to a particular biotechnology called microbial fuel cells.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, 2010.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 251-259).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering Systems Division.