BreathOfHope is a volunteer initiative to fight societal challenges. We achieve this by strengthening the culture of social innovation. A culture where people from different walks of life come together to fight shared societal challenges. The BreathofHope initiative was created in the wake of the medical equipment shortage posed by the COVID19 pandemic.
1. Produce open source hardware and software, under the CERN OHL-P v2.0. license.
2. Spawn social startups to take our work to its beneficiaries.
3. Build strong networks of innovators and experts from multiple disciplines.
4. Promote use of our designs across geographies. And invite volunteers from around the world. Make a global impact.
5. Provide a friendly and supportive platform for accelerated development of solutions to address societal challenges.
The idea of BreathofHope is realised through a community of volunteers. This community is organised as a collection of groups. Project groups are our frontline. They execute projects to produce a product, service, process or a combination of these. There are infrastructure groups that work to support project groups, by providing volunteers, connections, funding, visibility, technical designs, common components, and information.
The BreathofHope initiative is supported by multiple organisations. Supporting entities have representatives in the BreathofHope community. Supporting organisations include government, quasi government and private for profit and not for profit entities. Support may be in the form of service, facilities, funding. The best support that our supporting organisations can provide is to help bring our work to its real beneficiaries.
The BreathofHope initiative provides its project groups and volunteers with shared digital and physical platforms to distribute the results of their work. In the digital space this is in the form of a repository for code and technical designs, channels for dissemination of videos, blogs and websites. On the physical front this is in the form of a webstore, MoUs and relationships with manufacturers, suppliers, couriers and distributors.
The FOSS Advantage
In today’s world financial incentive based models promote innovation, aided by systems like patents and copyrights. However in special circumstances like the COVID19 outbreak that spawned the BreathofHope initiative, we need to build and deliver equipment quickly, with minimal resources. And volunteers are bound by agreements with multiple entities, under multiple legal jurisdictions. In such a circumstance, FOSS is a practical model for cooperation. Perhaps the only model that allows such cooperation. FOSS also makes it easy for organizations to support us.
Why the BreathofHope initiative should spawn social startups
Most of our projects build physical devices. So even when designs are freely available, there is a lot of effort needed to organise the supply chain, manage vendors, manufacture components, integrate, test and ship these devices, often through distributors. And after sales service is needed. All these require organisation of people and resources, and companies present an efficient framework for this. Such companies, or social startups, are the best way to take our designs to the intended beneficiaries.
BreathofHope Advantages for Social Startups
1. Proof of market – the idea often comes from potential customers. And the projects typically ship to pilot customers.
2. Validated product – the pilot version that projects produce are a good validation of the technology, components used and their configuration. Of course high volume production will require changes in the design, but this is a big first step.
3. Funding – Zero investment till pilot. Our volunteers donate their time and effort to a noble cause, and typically different agencies fund our projects. Therefore the startups literally get a product at pilot stage for free.
4. Network – during development and deployment of the pilot, we would have built a network necessary to provide information on requirements, technical background, manufacturing and sourcing. This network will come in handy to scale up production, and to reach out to potential customers.
5. Visibility – the sheer nature of the BreathofHope project gets us a lot of visibility. It is not often that volunteer groups of people from multiple disciplines cooperate to product open source results. This visibility will help in marketing.
6. Community support – the entire BreathofHope community takes pride in the success of its products. They will help spread the word, and connect with potential customers.
7. Peer support – As we spawn multiple social startups, they can help each other
8. Trust – many of our members know each other well, and new members are carefully selected based on personal trust. This trust level will help raise funds and bag orders.
9. Goodwill – compared to a regular company, there will be a goodwill to social startups we spawn, because of the noble inten with which we started our work, and the open source nature of our products
10. Maintenance – because our work is open source, customers will have the possiblity of servicing our products through third parties even if our startups shutdown a few years later.
11. Entry Barrier – Even when designs and code are freely available, it takes time to understand and replicate it. This is the first entry barrier. The second possible entry barrier is closed source product improvements. Eventually some startups that we spawn will significantly improve upon our designs. And on the face of competition, they may want to use it as a competitive advantage. The choice of the permissive variant of CERN OHL offers that option. In this eventuality, we suggest contributing the improvements back to the BreathofHope initiative within three years.
12. IP safety – We have patent lawyers in our community who make sure that the methods we develop have prior art. If not, and if they are not patented, we make defensive publications to make it prior art. If they are patented, we try to find out early and make workarounds. We are also part of the Open Innovation Network, through which we get the benefit of having access to a combined patent portfolio of more than 1300 patents of partner entities.