UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology



In a nutshell: Is it possible to commercialise open-source code? What are the different ways to do it?


Here there are several business models to consider:

  • Consulting: open-source licence to allow free use of code and charge companies or universities for consulting and support services (via UCLC or private consulting) for example for installation, developing extra features etc.
  • Royalties from knowhow: open-source licence to allow free use of code and then commercially licence your knowhow/expertise to companies interested in adapting the code for commercial use (At UCL contact UCLB).
  • Dual licensing: this is not called anymore ‘open source’, but rather ‘open access’. UCLB hosts XIP, a dual licensing code for non-patented IP such as code copyright. Through XIP you can license the code as free for academic use, but available for a fee for commercial use. You will also be able to approve licensees and keep track of use for impact metrics (at UCL contact UCLB, and ask for XIP platform).
  • Freemium: the basic code is free for everyone, add-on features are available under commercial licensing (at UCL contact UCLB) Re-licensing under a proprietary license: re-writing the code and use a non-open source license to sell the product to a third party.


Please contact Dr Eleonora Lugara’ (e.lugara@ucl.ac.uk), or Dr Paolo Spingardi (p.spingardi@uclb.com, UCLB) to discuss your options.

For more models see Business models for open-source software - Wikipedia and Software license - Wikipedia


The software can be either downloaded or available as a SaaS/Paas (Software-as-a-Service/ Platform as a service). The SaaS/PaaS are pieces of software hosted in a cloud infrastructure (i.e., operated through a web browser), and businesses pay a monthly fee to get access to this software.

Remember, that if the software is used as a medical device (and not just as a research tool in clinical trials), this will need to go through regulatory assessment (Quality Management System, device classification, ISO standards, US/UK/EU marking for commercialisation, etc).


Is Open Source Software an Investable Business or Not | Toptal®