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A GUIDE TO FIND THE RIGHT BUSINESS MODEL FOR MATERIALS MODELLING SOFTWARE

Gerhard Goldbeck; Alexandra Simperler; Natalia Konchakova; Daniel Höche

The objective of this White Paper is to help materials modelling software owners in exploring options to add to the existing universe of software, in particular to distribute their software more widely, to support the chemicals, materials and manufacturing industry with more tools, and potentially become entrepreneurs. It is based on evidence (Chapter 2) gathered from a wide range of stakeholders, in particular different types of materials modelling software owners (SWOs) and software users (SWUs).

Foremost, the SWO has to consider if their software is ready for the market and Chapter 3 poses some questions to aid in their decision.

Chapter 4 explores the reasoning why their software should enter the market. CATWOE (Customers, Actors, Transformation, Worldview, Owner and Environmental Constraints), a tool from the field of Soft Systems Methodology, is harnessed to enable the SWO to analyse if their software can find customers and actors, i.e. people using the software, and lead to some transformation in their professional life. SWOs are also encouraged to reflect on the worldview of their stake holders, and to revisit their ownership to ensure they are entitled to enter the market without barriers. It is also pertinent to think about environmental constraints, which are posed by forces the SWO cannot influence.

Chapter 5 is focussed on the existing Materials Modelling Software market. The ways how to enter a market depend on whether the market and products exist or are brand new or a combination thereof. A SCAMPER (Substitute, Combine, Adapt/Adjust, Modify, Put to alternative use, Eliminate and Reverse/Rearrange) analysis can aid in finding ways how to do this. The materials modelling software is “tested” by analysing if it could substitute an existing product, combine with an existing product, adapt/adjust to a problem, be modified, put to alternative use, or requires some elimination of code or rearrangement thereof.

Chapter 6 discusses ownership and licensing. The SWO has to either own the software or get permission by (co-)owners to move it towards a business. The importance of licensing is emphasised, as it needs to be clear what an SWU can/cannot do with the software.

Chapter 7 is dedicated to open source software. For SWOs interested in that route, it is important to form a community, as they require voluntary input for code development, documentation, maintenance and support. Suggested ways of generating revenue around open source software include research grants, collaborations in general and the offering of services. The latter can be providing training or Software as a Service (SaaS).

Chapter 8 elaborates on software commercialisation. Some SWOs may want to keep their academic careers and partner with a commercial software vendor or become a commercial software vendor. A commercial venture can be run as non-profit and for-profit organisation, and both will be discussed.

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