The digital business ecosystem

Start date

01 November 2003

End date

31 October 2007


The two overarching objectives of the DBE project are to provide Europe with a recognised advantage in innovative software application development by its small and medium-sized enterprises (software producer SMEs) and to achieve greater information and communication technology (ICT) adoption by SMEs in general.

The DBE will achieve these objectives by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach based on biology, physics, business and social sciences mechanisms and models to develop an open-source distributed environment that can support the spontaneous evolution and composition of

(not necessarily open-source) software services, components, and applications.

DBE transposes mechanisms from living organisms like evolution, adaptation, autonomy, viability, introspection, knowledge sharing, and self-organisation, to arrive at novel architectures and technologies, business processes, and knowledge, thus creating a network of digital business ecosystems for SMEs and software providers to improve their value networks and foster local economic development.

Aims and objectives

Four areas of research encompassed by the DBE project are:

  1. ICT transfer and adoption, training, ethnography, etc.
  2. Business modelling
  3. Computer science, software engineering and enabling technologies (web services, software agents, distributed architectures, ontologies, etc.)
  4. Fundamental models (maths, physics, biology, AI).

One of the outputs of the project will be an opensource, component-based software infrastructure that will act as a commons to support the evolutionary optimisation of software services for SMEs. This digital infrastructure will fit the local cultural identities and socio-economic needs of SMEs to support their participation in regional and sectorial innovation clusters.

The DBE will change the way SMEs and EU software providers use and distribute their products and services. It will allow SMEs to link enterprise-wide external resources and value networks, and to allocate them based on their business goals and priorities. The DBE is based on the key finding that with such an evolutionary and self-organising system Europe could harness the complexity of software production and its SME software industry could regain competitiveness in the market.

Funding amount