The cities in the Helsinki Region have worked actively for several years to make their data open and accessible to everyone. Open data increases people’s knowledge and understanding and improves their possibilities for active participation in society. At the same time, the expectation is that open data creates possibilities for both startups and established companies to innovate and create new business.
While the idea that open data enables new business is generally well accepted, we still have quite limited understanding of how that works in practice. Therefore, Helsinki Business Hub and Forum Virium Helsinki recently carried out a study on how Finnish companies have been able to use open data for business purposes.
The study covered about 100 companies that were known to utilise open data in their activities. The results were very encouraging: nearly half of the reviewed companies were leveraging open data in products or services that had business potential and could be sold on the market.
Open data is a broad concept that includes all kinds of data sources, but our study indicated that certain types were particularly useful for business creation. The most commonly used open data was geographical and location information favoured in both B2C and B2B businesses. Traffic and event information was another frequently used information type primarily utilised in consumer applications. On the B2B side there were also several companies offering either application development or data analytics solutions and services.
The open data alone is obviously not a sellable product, as by definition the data is available to anyone free of charge.;