Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Harvard web-development tool is being turned into a start-up


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 17th, 2018

A software technology that helps Harvard University departments create high-quality websites for free is now expanding to provide its services outside of the school.

Harvard has announced that most of the team working on OpenScholar is leaving the university to launch a company around the software, offering a wider range of services such as hosting, custom development, live support and training. OpenScholar LLC will make the free, open-source technology available to other schools that are interested in adopting it.

OpenScholar was originally created to provide Harvard scholars, departments, centers and projects with an easy-to-use tool to create and maintain websites without the need for programming knowledge or the high costs associated with outside web development companies.

The OpenScholar-built sites are specially designed for Harvard’s purposes. They increase academic citations and web visibility for faculty and student scholarship, but also serve administrative needs, assisting common branding across departmental sites and offering design choices and URL naming options for faculty. More than 17,000 Harvard faculty, students, and staff, individually or in groups, have created more than 9,000 OpenScholar websites.

Now that same technology will be offered to outside organizations. “Harvard has a long history of creating start-ups based on its academic work,” says Gary King, director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS), where OpenScholar was first developed. “This is the first time in Harvard’s history that researchers partnered with administrators in this way, and the first such effort to lead a new start-up.”

OpenScholar will still provide the same services within Harvard as the newly formed company expands to other schools.

“The OpenScholar software has transformed how Harvard faculty, staff, students and researchers share information and knowledge with the world,” says Anne Marguiles, chief information officer and vice president at the university. “It will be exciting to see what the platform can achieve in its next phase of development.”

Source: The Harvard Gazette

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