Report: open source as a driver of EU's digital innovation

EU study on the impact of open source published

Published on: 06/09/2021

The study on the impact of Open Source Software and Hardware for the European Commission found that open source software and hardware are key for the region's digital transformation and can be a major boost to the EU’s GDP.

Today, the European Commission published a study on the impact of open source software (OSS) and open source hardware (OSH) on the European economy, conducted by Fraunhofer ISI and OpenForum Europe. Full report is available here. The study estimates that open source software contributes between €65 to €95 billion to the European Union’s GDP and promises significant growth opportunities for the region’s digital economy. To achieve that, the EU should actively engage in a transition towards more openness in its political and investment culture. 

Sachiko Muto, the CEO of OpenForum Europe says: “Open source offers a greenfield advantage for policymakers and Europe has the chance to lead.”

The report recommends the EU to pursue a dedicated open source industrial policy and to include it in its major policy frameworks, such as the European Green Deal and the AI Act. It also recommends setting up a European network of governmental units dedicated to accelerating the use of open technologies, providing substantial funding to open source support mechanisms and projects, e.g. through the flagship Horizon Europe program with a total budget of €95.5 billion for 2021-2027, and following the direction of open innovation in the bloc’s quest for digital autonomy.

EU governments and companies have already noticed the potential of Open by investing over €1 billion in open source development in 2018 alone. The data predicts that if open source contributions increased by 10% in the EU, they would generate an additional 0.4% to 0.6% (around €100 billion) to the bloc’s GDP. To reap these benefits, the researchers point to a need for a profound culture switch and significant investments in open technologies. 

The report consists of: economic analysis, policy analysis in 13 countries in the EU, Americas, and Asia, case studies on open source software and hardware, and a set of several policy recommendations in areas such as industrial policies, education, research and development, and regarding building institutional capacity for the EU's digital autonomy.