IOI is preparing to launch a new Fund in 2024, designed to provide catalytic funding to networks serving the research community to further the adoption and implementation of infrastructure and services necessary to achieve and advance open science.

Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) was founded on the premise that to achieve a more equitable and accessible research ecosystem, additional investment in foundational systems, tools, and communities is needed. We have seen calls for immediate and affordable access to knowledge on the national level with the recent Nelson memo from the White House, and on the international and intergovernmental stage with the UNESCO Open Science declaration, EU Council conclusions, and more. These declarations acknowledge the critical role open science plays in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals, and the importance of developing a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive open science ecosystem.

Our work at IOI over the past two years has been dedicated to gaining a better understanding of the costs, needs, gaps, and trends in funding for research infrastructure services in order to fuel a more evidence-based approach to advancing open science and more equitable access to knowledge for all. In November 2022, IOI announced its intention to launch a pilot fund to catalyze further community investment, infrastructure support, and adoption of the technologies and systems needed to further more equitable access and participation in research globally.

Fund Overview

In line with increasing regulatory momentum and with priorities surfaced through IOI’s ongoing research, the IOI Fund will focus on furthering the adoption of open infrastructures that enable open and equitable sharing of data and content.

We aim to provide catalytic, multi-year funding to networks of institutions and researchers (consortia, research and education networks, community coalitions, etc.) to identify and undertake practical steps towards furthering their adoption, implementation, and ongoing use of infrastructures enabling open data and content. This will involve a hands-on approach, working with communities as key partners in outlining strategies for utilizing funding to achieve these aims.

Through this pilot Fund, IOI intends to:

  • Partner with at least (3) networks across diverse geographies, focusing on networks with a strong existing service relationship to a set of communities or institutions, a public commitment to open research principles, and a specific opportunity for using funds to advance open infrastructure adoption among members
  • Raise $6-8M USD to support these partnerships for 3-5 years, providing flexible funding and strategic support to enable the adoption of open infrastructure for those networks and their members, with a focus on open infrastructures enabling immediate and equitable open access to data and content.
  • Create a mechanism to expand the pool of funders for open infrastructure, including calling for commercial service providers and others who derive significant value from the open ecosystem to reinvest in the open systems from which they profit.

The IOI Fund aims to advance the following impact goals:

  • Increase access to open data and content for researchers and institutions represented by participating networks, through the adoption of open infrastructures
  • Increase sustainability for open infrastructure providers and services through the increased use, awareness, and contributions (technical and financial) of participating networks and institutions
  • Create new models for coordinated adoption and shared investment in open infrastructure by developing capacity for participating networks to serve as large scale ‘brokers’ or providers of open infrastructure for their members
  • Expand the total pool of funding and diversify funding sources for open infrastructure
  • Drive investment towards a more representative and equitable ecosystem and enable collaboration and exchange of learnings across geographic and cultural contexts

How will funds be used?

Although IOI’s extensive research and community engagement (including dedicated regional research efforts and our recent collective funding pilot) have helped us understand a number of potential strategies for how funding might enable the adoption of open infrastructure, we believe that those closest to the challenge are best positioned to design and implement solutions for themselves and their communities. This Fund is designed to surface and enable solutions that meet the specific needs of networks serving the research community.

Illustrative examples of how funds might be used, as articulated by networks in conversation with IOI, include:

  • Providing financial support to incentivize migration to an open source, community-owned infrastructure solution (for example, a data repository). This may include buying out an existing contract, supporting initial implementation, providing technical support for customisation
  • Technical support to increase the utility and usability of a service to suit the needs of a larger network of institutions
  • Building out a shared infrastructure model to provide consortial / network access to data / content repository services; open persistent identifier support (ARKs, RORs); Diamond open access / library publishing offerings
  • System upgrade support including technical support, staffing + capacity for training on new systems (examples: DSpace, Fedora, etc.)
  • Capacity building / training for implementation (examples: staff line for training / outreach / stewardship for the service to spur engagement and use of the service; staff line / technical support in the form of a dedicated developer; funds to reward volunteer contributors to a service; training for technical contributors)

A focus on networks as key drivers of change

IOI is focused on increasing investment in open infrastructure to further adoption. In practice, that means working closely with communities of researchers and institutional leaders as well as infrastructure providers to ensure that communities have the resources needed to successfully implement, adopt, and/or migrate to solutions that make sense for their current needs.

Networks such as library consortia, National and Regional Research & Education Networks (NRENs, RRENs), and other community-based networks serving researchers have long played a role in providing services and collective benefits to the research ecosystem. From library consortia who began as means of sharing costs for content, to NRENs who began as supports to deliver critical access to connectivity, we see tremendous promise in working with those who have established relationships serving an array of research and learning institutions, often across national borders. The network partners we are prioritizing are at the forefront of advocating and implementing shared infrastructure support to ensure their communities have affordable solutions and critical access to research data and scholarship.

How will IOI select network partners for funding?

IOI seeks to partner with networks such as library consortia, National and Regional Research and & Education Networks (NRENs, RRENs), and other community-based networks serving the research ecosystem.

IOI will prioritize networks with a strong existing service relationship to a set of communities or institutions, a public commitment to open science and open research infrastructure, and demonstrated pathways for using funds to further open infrastructure adoption among members. We are working to define specific due diligence criteria to articulate the combination of need, readiness, and broader impact potential of the networks that will be most effective partners for this work.

IOI seeks to be additive, focusing this pilot fund on geographies where additional funding and coordination efforts might fill gaps for greatest impact. Initial network selection will focus primarily on Africa, Latin America, and North America, building on IOI’s existing work and allowing for deeper understanding of regional context, as well as ensuring the inclusion of networks from regions historically under-resourced in open infrastructure development. Working across multiple regions is intended to facilitate collaboration and exchange of learnings across geographic and cultural contexts, enabling a more global understanding of the challenges in adopting open infrastructure.

What’s next?

  • IOI is engaged in conversations with networks, funders, and other stakeholders to further develop plans for the Fund, including due diligence criteria for network partners and projects.
  • IOI is seeking funding commitments from a broad range of stakeholders, with the goal of securing $6-8 million USD for the initial cohort of network partners.
  • IOI plans to deploy funding with network partners beginning in mid-late 2024.

Interested in contributing or learning more? Please contact funding [at] investinopen [dot] org.

About IOI

Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI) works to increase the investment in and adoption of open infrastructure to further equitable access to and participation in research. We are committed to open, collective, and iterative development, from our governance-building and stakeholder engagement activities, to our decision-making tools and the research we produce. IOI receives financial support from philanthropies, institutions, and library coalitions, and is fiscally sponsored by Code for Science & Society, a leading 501(c)3 supporting the public interest technology space. Learn more at


Read more about the work behind the Fund: IOI launches fund to deepen investment in Open Infrastructure.

Read more about IOI’s approach to working with networks: Accelerating adoption and investment in open infrastructure worldwide through collaboration with networks

Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on the Fund and more.

Social media image by Mario Mesaglio on Unsplash.

Updated October 3, 2023, by Sarah Lang

Posted by Sarah Lang