Title: Arduino – a global network for digital innovation
Publisher: European Commission, DG CONNECT
Publication Year: 2018
JRC N°: JRC107956
ISBN: 978-92-79-72270-7
ISSN: 1977-7558
URI: https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/f1090096-3233-11e8-b5fe-01aa75ed71a1/language-en
DOI: 10.2759/815824
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Digital technologies have changed the way we store, consume and create information and knowledge. At the aggregate level, the ease of knowledge distribution and creation in the digital economy gave rise to new forms of innovation. Innovative activities are increasingly taking place in self-organising networks [1]. The outcomes of this type of innovation have been impressive. For example, at the beginning of the 1990s nobody believed that Fortune 500 companies would trust so´ware that could not be ‘owned’ [2]. Today, open-source so´ware has been crucial to the emergence of the digital economy. Linux enabled Google to build cheap servers. Such programming languages as Java, Perl and Ruby have become the language of web 2.0 applications, and the free web-server so´ware Apache powers nearly half of all websites in the world. Increasingly, digitisation allows knowledge-intensive activities related to the development and production of any product or service to move beyond the boundaries of a single firm and to allow access by any organisation or individual to improve and develop it further. There is a growing movement of users of hardware products who are improving hardware, fuelled by ever-cheaper electronics, technical education and training material available online [2]. The internet allows communities to be built that are committed to solving particular problems and are capable of developing and designing almost any hardware or so´ware product. This is true for a smartphone, a car, a building or a supply-and-demand algorithm organising the matchmaking between sellers and buyers of agricultural products. Today, self-organising networks are increasingly developing advanced technologies and products underpinning the digital economy. Arduino, together with its community, is an example of how the development and production of open- source hardware takes place in a self-organising network rather than within the boundaries of a single firm. Founded in 2005 as a side research project at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Ivrea, Italy, Arduino has become an innovation so´ware and hardware network spanning the entire world. The Arduino technology platform has opened up possibilities that clearly go far beyond hobby activities and have real economic impacts. The range of products that have been launched with ‘Arduino at Heart’ includes synthesisers, MP3 players, amplifiers, high-end voice-over-IP phone routers, mobile phones and laptops [2]. In 2016 Arduino was also recognised by the Innovation Radar - a European Commission initiative to identify key innovations and innovators in European Union-funded research projects, as ranking first among over 1 000 organisations [3]. Together with such partners as Gorenje, one of the leading European manufacturers of home appliances, Arduino was involved in the development of a new WiFi control platform for home Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The case of Arduino shows how digital technologies changed the processes of innovation and gave rise to new ways of organising innovation activities in the field of complex, technology-based goods and services. The current article presents Arduino as a global network for digital innovation. It starts with a discussion on how digitalisation is changing the way we handle knowledge and produce innovations, and what implications these changes have for the organisation of economic activities. Then we describe the ecosystem of Arduino. We conclude with a discussion of the implications the digitally induced changes in innovation processes have for innovation policies.
JRC Directorate:Growth and Innovation

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