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Initial Results from the Study of the Open Source Sector in Belgium

Abstract

The economy of FLOSS (Free and open source software) has been the subject of numerous studies and publications, particularly on the issue of business models. However, there are fewer studies on the local networks of FLOSS providers. This research focuses on the ecosystem of Belgian FLOSS providers and, more specifically, their geographical distribution, the activities, technologies and software they support, their business models, their economic performance and the relationships between companies. The research is based on a directory containing nearly 150 companies. This directory led to the creation of a specialized search engine that helped to improve annotation. The research also uses financial data provided by the Belgian Central Balance Sheet Office. The initial results of this study show a concentration in major economic areas. The businesses are more active in the services and are heavily involved activities such as infrastructure software and Web development, activities which were common in the early years of free software development. Services for the support of business software is also common. A first analysis of the graph of relationships between providers’ websites highlights the role that is played by the multinational IT companies, by FLOSS editors, by commercial FLOSS associations and especially by the Walloon centers of competence that offer vast training catalogs that are dedicated to FLOSS. This research opens up many perspectives for improving the automation of the company directory updates, the analysis of the relationship between enterprises, and the automation of the financial analysis of companies.