The Lens awarded $2M USD to strengthen institutional innovation capabilities

02 March 2021 by Cambia Staff in Featured, News

The Lens awarded $2M USD to strengthen institutional innovation capabilities

Press Release - Tuesday, 2nd March 2021

Cambia today announced a $2M USD grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support scaling its prominent open knowledge platform, The Lens, as it launches its institutional toolkits to encourage shared evidence and open data to guide partnering and action for science-based problem solving by institutions.

To contribute more effectively to global innovation for shared crises, including the ongoing COVID pandemic, both public and commercial institutions need tools to measure and improve their performance in the complex and collaborative process of delivery of outcomes to society, whether through adopted practices or effective products. New metrics and maps to do this must be built on open and verifiable data that transcends discipline and domain boundaries. The Lens is a world leader in providing free and open discovery and analysis of worldwide patents and research knowledge. Serving 225M+ scholarly work records, 125M+ patent documents from over 100 countries, and 370M+ biological sequences extracted from patents, The Lens has been operating continuously for more than two decades as a public resource. While continuing with its popular free personal-use accounts, The Lens will now provide low cost licenses to both public sector and commercial institutions for a growing toolkit, built upon opxn data that bridges science and business. The Lens Institutional Toolkit will help showcase institutional capabilities to promote precise partnering and provide discovery, analysis, mapping, measuring, and managing tools for innovation work product. The toolkit includes site-wide licenses, powerful, high-volume APIs, branded and attested collections and portfolios, report builders, institutional capability profiles, customizable alerts and more.

Low Price & Open Data

Research institutions and their funders currently pay private corporations almost a billion dollars a year for tools to discover, analyze and measure data around research publications - even those they have published or funded - with results that are often closed and unshareable. With huge budget cuts associated with the COVID crisis, this is unsustainable, and with the need for transparency and inclusion from interoperable shareable data, untenable.

Equitable Access

Run by Cambia, a long-established global non-profit social enterprise, The Lens’ low institutional licensing fees are part of a collective action project to defray the costs of building and maintaining open public infrastructure, underpinned by a unique equitable access policy ensuring that no institution will be excluded from using the toolkits due to limited funds. “There will be no ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ in this program. Every institution worldwide that needs or wants these tools will have access based on fair, tiered pricing, confident that the fees go towards making knowledge available as a public good,” said Richard Jefferson, Founder of Cambia, and Executive Director of The Lens.

Assured Privacy

Concerned that ‘surveillance capitalism’ as the price for ‘free’ services is too high a price for truly free societies to bear, the Lens builds respect for user’s privacy into the platform, which has no advertising, no sharing of user data and no monetizing users’ activities. “Commercial, investment and legal practice norms require and expect confidentiality. We enshrine this in our system, but we impose no constraints on how users choose to share their data with others,” said Jefferson.

Collective Action

The congruent crises of COVID-19, climate change, food security, the economy and social inequity show that we need better and more inclusive ways to create a healthy, fair and sustainable world. Solving these challenges will require collective action from countless institutions, with policy, regulation and investment guided by transparency and trusted, shared evidence.
“Collective action isn’t kumbaya, it's critical and it’s practical. Each of us - and our institutions - must do our part to contribute to solving these challenges. The Lens focuses on illuminating what innovation capabilities exist, who and which institutions have them and how those capabilities fit into the complex jigsaw puzzle of problem solving.” We are grateful to the Gates Foundation for supporting The Lens for more than a decade towards this shared goal,” added Jefferson.

About The Lens

The Lens is the world’s leading integrated open platform for discovery, analysis and management of global patent and scholarly knowledge. is provided as a public resource to make science and technology enabled problem solving more effective, efficient and inclusive. The development goals are to merge and expose linkages between all the knowledge corpora and the capabilities needed to innovate, and to incentivize latent knowledge to become publicly discoverable to guide improved partnering and performance in the creation of social outcomes. The Lens has been operating for over twenty years as a project of the long-established non-profit social enterprise Cambia, with support from leading global philanthropies and public institutions. For more information, please contact Annie Connell at