[okfn-discuss] Sustainable open data business question(s)

Peter Murray-Rust pm286 at cam.ac.uk
Fri Apr 15 16:16:02 UTC 2011

On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 4:51 PM, Rufus Pollock <rufus.pollock at okfn.org>wrote:

> On 15 April 2011 14:42, Jo Walsh <jo at frot.org> wrote:
> [...]
> > But the only example i've got of a really successful business built on
> > open data is Cloudmade - which sells custom hosted services based on
> > OpenStreetmap data. There must be quite a few others? So i am looking
> > for:
> >
> >  * examples of a successful 'business' sustainability model based on open
> data
> >  * more suggestions for how ORCID specifically could raise revenue
> > while opening all data
This is a critically important issue - I have asked a number of people how
to sustain Open Source (in the general sense) in science.

Historically companies such as Cygnus and Redhat did this *in the ICT arena*
and Open Source + chargeable services is now very common there . I have
struggled to find things in non-ICT vertical domains. An early example was
Lion Bioscience selling repackaged genome and realted data and tools. But it
didn't work out (not necessarily because of a bad model).

However it's startiing to happen. One of our collaborators in the Blue
Obelisk Open Source chemistry community (
is Marcus Hanwell (copied). who works for a company Kitware(
http://www.kitware.com/ ) selling Open Source services for visualization and
related areas (not just chemistry). Marcus is himself the guru/Doctor_Who of
Avogadro - a beautiful open Source molecular visualizer (
http://avogadro.openmolecules.net/wiki/Main_Page ).

Anything that the OKF can do to highlight this and collect examples will be
really valuable. Creating a revenue stream out of Open Knowledge is really
important. I have lived through decades where a walled-garden program could
make lots of money because of novelty value and control. I really liked
"make a living not a killing" - that's a great mantra.


Peter Murray-Rust
Reader in Molecular Informatics
Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
University of Cambridge
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