Data institutions are organisations whose purpose involves stewarding data on behalf of others, often towards public, educational or charitable aims. For these institutions to achieve this purpose, they need to be sustainable. Sustainability will ensure that institutions can steward data over the long term, in ways that help to increase the value that can be created from that data, while minimising potential harms.
This report is the result of an initial investigation into the sustainability of data institutions.
We have explored the business and revenue models for a small number of existing data institutions. Some are still in the early stages of their lifecycle, while others have been in operation for 20 or more years.
We propose a framework for thinking about the sustainability of data institutions that involves consideration of three different elements:
- The role that the data institution plays in its data ecosystem, which directly impacts the type and source of its revenue; and the underlying costs that the institution has to cover.
- The stage that the data institution is at in its lifecycle, which informs the type of revenue it needs to acquire, and how those revenue sources may evolve over time as the institution and its ecosystem matures.
- The business model of the data institution, which informs the choice of revenue model that best aligns with its purpose.