For the first time and as a joint-effort of DG DIGIT and DG Connect, the Commission has brought together thought leaders, experts, and research specialists on open source software (OSS) and open source hardware (OSH). The two-day conference/workshop on 14 and 15 November is one of the outcomes of DIGITs EU-FOSSA project and at the same time the kick-off of a policy setting exercise by DG Connect.
The event titled "Open Source Beyond 2020 – Powering a Digital Europe" attracted over 120 participants, mostly from across Europe, but also from Asia and the USA. We had to decline access to several tens of others, having received over 200 registrations.
The frontier of innovation
In sessions and hands-on workshops over the two days, conference participants and Commission staff debated the key challenges and opportunities within open source, discussed the sustainability of business models supporting open source communities, and the frontier of research and innovation in both open source software and open source hardware.
“Help the Commission to embrace the open source lifestyle,” said Thomas Gageik, Director of Digital Business Solutions, DIGIT B3 in his opening address. Pearse O'Donohue, Director E DG Connect said, “We believe in open source because it drives innovation and competition and lowers barriers to entry of the market – so let’s use open source to power a Digital Europe”. Their joint call to action was enthusiastically received by the open source community, and the conference started.
"Thank you for this excellent workshop, one of the best I have witnessed in my twenty-year career as an open source advocate and entrepreneur!", said one of the attendees at the end of the conference. Others thanked us via Twitter and LinkedIn.
Coding in the open
On the first day, attendees confirmed that open source has been a key enabler of European innovation, and focused on the importance of policies that encourage improvements of open source hardware, so it too can emulate the success of open source software.
One key feature of this workshop was that each session was focused around solutions. These were brainstormed, listed, discussed, and then voted upon. Panels discussed topics such as the role of open source in the manufacturing and ICT industries; lowering barriers to the provision of open source services to the public sector by SMEs; and how best to nurture open source communities.
The second day focused on digital skills for open source; open source standards; open science; and supporting open source in public services. "Interoperability can be achieved through open standards, but also through open source software", said Sachiko Muto.
The workshop concluded with a panel discussion on improving openness, trust, and security thanks to open source. The solution “Encourage coding in the open for everything and everyone, our kids, our schools and our public services” received the most votes in the last session.
For many participants, thirteen workshops in two days were clearly not enough. For them, one pressing question remained "When is the next conference?"