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Designing Your Open-Source Hardware Development Ecosystem

A toolkit for businesses brave enough to give away their design for free 

Our Open-Source Ecosystem Toolkit has been collaboratively developed to help businesses define, prioritize and either confirm or debunk the risks and opportunities related to opening up your hardware design. 

This toolkit can help you:

  • Test and validate assumptions about your open-source offering
  • Visualize your ecosystem featuring customers, collaborators, offerings, and channels of exchange
  • Define your customers from early innovators and adopters to more mainstream target groups
  • Explore who will contribute to your business and offerings development, and how

Scroll down to get started!

Get started

Getting started with the toolkit is straightforward. Whether you’re a small business, a team, or a one-man enterprise, we recommend you set aside at least two hours to work on the exercises in this toolkit. 

  • Download the PDF guide, exercises, and accompanying cards and print them out.
  • Alternatively, dive into the MIRO board and copy the template to your profile.
  • Also, you can, in true open-source spirit, use the open-source program TL-draw; simply download the file and upload it to TL-draw to get started.

Distribute designs, not products

Open-source as a design method promises a massive potential for streamlining your innovation process and minimizing both development, production, and marketing costs. By opening up your design via the digital sharing of technical and repair files and documentation, you can quickly invite citizens and end-users to participate in prototyping, upgrading, or improving your offering. But in the free and open sharing of skills, knowledge, and design files, what’s in it for you, and, indeed, your customers? 

The problem with open-source hardware is that it radically differs from conventional business practices. Although there is a growing number of successful open-source businesses showcasing revenue models around open-source (companies like Arduino and Prusa3D have already disproven the assumption that giving something away for free will bankrupt you), it is challenging to make assumptions about risks and opportunities in a field that’s still relatively underexplored.

The key lies in making your business model development community-based rather than community-driven. And how might you do that? 

What did we do

Between 2020 and 2022, DDC – Danish Design Center took part in the EU Horizon 2020 project OPENNEXT, seeking to leverage our design thinking and business development expertise to the benefit of our international project partners and the 18 small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved with the project. 

Based on our previous open-source project RE:MODEL and feedback from six pilot SMEs, we designed a toolkit aimed explicitly at businesses seeking to understand the short-term and long-term business potential and value exchange that occur when you open up part or all of your product and/offering. 

Through user tests involving companies from various industries and of varying sizes, we adjusted and refined the toolkit to make it self-explanatory and easily adaptable. Amongst some of the companies we worked with are Mekanika, a growing start-up that develops DIY desktop manufacturing machines, ANAVI, an open-source IoT developer, and Manyone, a global strategy-design hybrid agency. 

As a toolkit for open-source and community-based business development, the toolkit is naturally open-source. This means it can be copied, reused, and iterated according to you and your business needs. Lastly, the toolkit is iterative, meaning you can come back to it days, months, or even years into your business development to check your process and reflect on your decisions. 

Julie Hjort

Director of Sustainable Transition

Phone +45 2575 8933
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Do you have questions about the toolkit?

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