The Bika Open Source LIMS project started out as prototype, Bach, piloted in the Western Cape wine industry in 2002. Given the cost of unwieldy pre-Internet proprietary systems, there was a clear need for affordable, easy-to-use LIMS and instrument integration.
Web clients were becoming popular but few LIMS were web based, often merely web enabled legacy systems. And none were doing Open Source wet chemistry.
The system has since seen incremental growth through major releases Inkosi 'Chief' LIMS 2 and Gaob 'King' LIMS 3, including micro-biology and branches for health care, water quality management and inter-laboratory proficiency testing.
Today Bika LIMS is arguably the best Open Source LIMS available, sustained by a collective of users, developers and sponsors unwavering in their efforts to keep to professional standards and away from proprietary pricing models.
The software's future is ensured with effective organisational structure and many global developers, in high demand, currently expanding the system with the support of sponsoring clients, peer review by co-developers, and testing by fast expanding user base.
To ensure it remains available Free and Open Source, the program code and intellectual property for Bika Health, Bika's health care LIMS, belong to the non-profit Bika Health Foundation, # 2008/008390/08, registered 31 March 2008 at the South African Companies and Intellectual Property Office as:
Custodians of the Bika Health LIMS intellectual property, committed to keeping the program code freely available, nurturing the Bika Health LIMS project and sponsoring deserving Health initiatives
The Foundation invites academics, open source development communities, philanthropists and institutional role players to participate and sponsor development and distribution of public health laboratory systems.
Bika aims to fulfil laboratory requirements holistically, with full system ownership, including the program code, by the lab and complete knowledge transfer to staff. This propagates the system to everybody's benefit without any barriers.
Bika offers free upgrade paths, no license fees and no vendor lock-in. Systems remain customisable and continue to inherit further enhancements from other contributions free of charge.
Open Source contributes to local economies, directly through savings in license fees, and indirectly through the benefit of skills development, doing away with the black boxes of conventional proprietary, closed-source information technology.
* Holism and Evolution (1926) by another famous African, Gen J. C. Smuts:
The tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution.
After Einstein studied "Holism and Evolution" he wrote that two mental constructs will direct human thinking in the next millennium, his own of relativity and Smuts' of holism.
Inter-disciplinary software activism? Holism.
Bika does not take on work in the defence industry, and in support of Bishop Tutu's Plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine, neither there.
In the tradition of Chief Inkosi Bika LIMS 2 using a title for a release, Bika 3 is code-named King Gaob Bika LIMS 3.