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Open source ecosystem could drive massive economic growth

open source
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Imilian)

Open source software and hardware not only contribute to the European economy in a significant way, but also promise “significant growth opportunities” for the digital economy in the region.

This is according to a new report from the European Commission, which concludes that the EU should “pursue a dedicated open source industrial policy” to facilitate growth.

Conducted by Fraunhofer ISI and OpenForum Europe, the report estimates that open source contributes anywhere between $77 and $112 billion to the EU economy. To achieve even more growth, the EU should “actively engage in a transition towards more openness in its political and investment culture,” the report asserts. 

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

According to the report, the EU needs to create a dedicated open source industrial policy, in which it would integrate major policy frameworks such as the European Green Deal and the AI Act. Furthermore, the report recommends the EU should set up a network of governmental units whose sole purpose would be to accelerate the use of open source technologies. 

“To put the results into context,” the report concludes, “the economic value of open-source software in the EU is equivalent to both air and water transport combined.”

In 2018, EU governments invested more than $1.18 billion in open source. Investing an additional 10 percent could generate around $118 billion, it was said.