Revenues for usage of Smittestopp abroad
In connection with the launch of Smittestopp, Simula has received inquiries about whether other countries can use the app, as well as the conditions related to this. Here we explain how we share this code with other countries.
Simula is a non-profit enterprise. Our main purpose is to conduct research in information- and communication technology (ICT), and through this contribute to innovation in society. We are owned by the state (100%) and all our income is used for research, education, and innovation. When we protect our material on the grounds of "commercial interest", we are protecting intellectual property. We are protecting these products, which were developed using public money, from misuse by private companies or foreign countries. And we are also generating revenue for Simula's core activities: research, education, and innovation.
Simula has developed the Smittestopp app for the Norwegian health authorities, and this has garnered some interest abroad. Some countries are developing their own code for contact tracing, and we developed collaborations with public institutions in such countries that is built on sharing code. At present, this collaboration includes Iceland and the United Kingdom. So far there has been no talk of payment for the use of the code. However, we have implemented restrictions on sharing of the code in order to ensure that we are in control of its use.
We have also been contacted by commercial players who want to create digital contact tracing solutions for other countries. In some countries, we have had only preliminary talks, while in the Netherlands our solution has been included as part of a tender submitted to the Dutch health authorities. As these are commercial companies, we have requested a license to use our software. Simula believes it is wrong for commercial operators to profit from the development work Simula has done for the Norwegian authorities and that was financed by public funding.
If these collaborations result in revenue from licensing, it will be dedicated in full to the further development of the app and for research related to digital contact tracing. This revenue will be used in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and with research partners from participating countries that are using the app.
If we receive more inquiries about the use of this app in other countries, we will follow the strategy outlined above: we will share code with other public actors in liberal democracies, but we will require a license when commercial actors include our code in their solutions. And we will always put restrictions on the further sharing of the code, to safeguard against its use by oppressive regimes.
Simula developed "Smittestopp" in order to help Norway slow the spread of Covid-19 by use of a simple digital aid that, once installed, does not require any more input from the user. We want to help make this technology available in other countries. We do not, however, find it reasonable that Norway simply give away technology that others will make money from. Instead, we would rather collect revenue that can be used to advance the fight against infectious disease even more efficiently in the future.
Professor Aslak Tveito, CEO