Towards national policy for open source hardware research: The case of Finland

Ismo Heikkinen, Hele Savin, Jouni Partanen, Jukka Seppälä, J.M. Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


Free and open-source hardware (FOSH) is rapidly gaining momentum because it provides customized research hardware with over 90% savings compared to the costs of proprietary tools. However, the focused skill sets of researchers who aim to facilitate their own research limit FOSH complexity. The most expensive research equipment normally requires an interdisciplinary team. To overcome this complexity barrier and obtain large returns on investment for research funders by replacing the most expensive proprietary research equipment with FOSH, new development funding mechanisms are needed. To guide such research policy, this paper provides the first analysis of the strategic national benefit of applying the FOSH approach to major research equipment for any nation. The results of an example analysis for a single nation indicate Finland's science funders could save between 2.84–27.7m€/year directly on scientific equipment purchases if research hardware is converted to FOSH and the nation would likely garner the well-established concomitant benefits of increased research innovation within their economy. Finally, a detailed generalized model for determining national research policy in hardware development is derived and research policy mechanisms for accelerating FOSH deployment and greater accessibility to research equipment are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119986
Number of pages10
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Economics of science
  • Equipment
  • Research tools
  • Open source
  • Open source hardware
  • Research expenditures


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