Business Models for Open Source Hardware Repositories
Free and open source hardware repositories provide massive public good, but funding their operation has proven tenuous with conventional business models. This study evaluates business models to foster that public good. Business models for online design repositories are reviewed and a new model is conceptualized to fund repository operations. The greatest added value an open hardware repository brings to the user-developer community is validation and vetting of the designs. A business model was proposed that uses revenue from the vetting process to fund validation studies and sustainable operations of the open hardware repository itself. As the return on investment of laterally-scaled open hardware that can leverage distributed manufacturing has the potential for creating enormous value, maintaining repositories for this hardware enables vast wealth generation for everyone. This is the first study specifically focused on ways to ensure economic sustainability of open hardware repositories.
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