Ahead of the GovTech Summit, Lars Zimmermann, MD at PUBLIC Germany interviews Rafael Laguna de la Vera, CEO at Open-Xchange about the potential of GovTech and Open Source Software for Europe.

Co-founder and CEO of Open-Xchange, Rafael Laguna has been growing software companies for over 25 years, and is a long-time advocate and campaigner for open-source software and the open web. More recently Rafael was also appointed Founding Director at SprinD, a new €1 billion federal agency that will help identify and finance large-scale, cutting-edge innovation projects in Germany over the next decade.

Rafael will be speaking at the GovTech Summit this year, on the “Investing in GovTech” panel, alongside Ron Bouganim (Govtech Fund), Robin Klein (LocalGlobe VC), Rolf Kjærgaard (Vækstfonden) and Margaret Perchik (Prime Ventures).

Why should we all get engaged in GovTech?

In many cases, governments are responsible for redistributing over half of the wealth generated by their country’s economy. GovTech, therefore, promises to become a much-needed driving force behind innovation, wealth, fairness and accountability in technology. What’s more, making it easier and quicker for people and governments to interact will improve the daily lives of the many.

How do you think governments across Europe should build GovTech capabilities?  

Governments should follow the principles of open collaboration. This means building open, federated and permissionless systems (as demanded in the “Public Money, Public Code” campaign). Governments should publish this software under open source and/or open access licenses, making them available to everyone and allowing for more rapid innovation across the board.

What role can governments play in funding and scaling (GovTech) technologies?

Governments should only fund systems that are open, federated, and permissionless. Funding open technologies will benefit the overall economy, create a fairer market (as opposed to the big tech monopolies we see now) and build essential transparency and trust. Governments should also identify any gaps in current open offerings and dedicate public funds to address them.

Do you see the need for dedicated GovTech investment funds?

For most small companies, dealing with governments is an entirely new process. “Smart money” from dedicated GovTech funds could, therefore, be very useful in fostering the GovTech ecosystem, by helping companies market to governments, teaching them the principles of good GovTech, and granting access to crucial government networks. Some funds should also work under socio-political and general economy targets rather than being profit-oriented, opening up to even more innovation in not-for-profit fields.

Why do you think people should come to a conference like the GovTech Summit?

Although GovTech is a very promising field, it is still relatively unfamiliar amongst many potentially critical players that might play a role in fostering a modern, free, federated and permissionless GovTech ecosystem. Anyone with an interest in GovTech should come to the conference to help seed this knowledge transfer, networking and access.

Join us in Paris for the GovTech Summit on 14 Nov 2019, where public leaders, innovators and investors will gather to discuss how technology can re-think governments across Europe!