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Ingenta, founded in May 1998, is a publicly quoted company with around 240 staff
world wide and offices in Oxford and Bath, UK, and Boston and Providence, USA. In
September 1998 it acquired BIDS, the Bath Information Data Services (BIDS), from the
University of Bath. BIDS then served over 70% of the UK higher education institutions,
delivering over 10.000 documents per month. Ingenta expanded aggressively growing the
number of publisher customers and the repository of available journals. It now is a global
gateway and one of the largest web sites for the search and delivery of research articles.
Ingenta provides free access to the article summaries from over 25,000 publications, and, for
subscribers, to the full-text of over 5,200 titles from 170 publishers. It reports having had in
March 2001 over 3 million user sessions per month (March 2000: 750.000), and in February
2001 delivered 400,000 articles per month (March 2000: 200,000).
[For detailed company and market information see the reports from industry and
financial analysts available from the Ingenta web site].
As Chris Rusbridge, former Director of the e-Lib Programme, states:"The document
delivery project InfoBike may have failed in its original terms, but it mutated: first into the
BIDS JournalsOnline service, which then provided the core of the spin-off company
ingenta, now a 100 million publicly quoted company! In this sense it was an extremely
successful project, and one of which we can be justly proud, even if some parts of JISC
(Joint Information Systems Committee) are a little unsure of claiming such commercial
success as an appropriate yardstick (unlike the NSF, which is proud to count successful spin-
off companies as a performance indicator)." (Rusbridge, 2001)
Concluding from the experiences of the e-Lib programme, one can say that exploitation
in the library world if it is a target - is far from being easily achievable.The key issues and
targets are clearly on the side of conceiving and making possible, with information techno-
logies, solutions for online delivery and usages of material most needed in the scholarly and
educational sector.
An example for this is HERON (Higher Education Resources ON-demand) that defines
itself as a "one-stop service" for the UK Higher Education community for copyright
clearance, digitisation, and delivery of digital book extracts and journal articles
(<>). In particular, it focuses on the re-use of current copyright
material in digital form, for course readings in higher education. In this case, again citing
Rusbridge,"after much hard work and many drafts of business models, a business strategy
may have been identified.The important thing here is to devise sustainable ways that
copyright material can be used with clear, known and reasonable costs, and at short notice."
Overall, the e-Lib programme provides ample prove of "the difficulty of taking even
widely supported ideas through research into service" as well as pointing out,"that the real
problems are organisational, political and financial rather than technical". (Rusbridge, 2001)
Lessons learned: Successful projects need more than three years
An important question in all digital cultural heritage projects that aim at becoming
successful (at least self-sustained) in economic terms is:What is the time scale needed? There
is a clear message here from the UK Electronic Libraries Programme that included 70+
projects. Each project could only expect to be funded up to 3 years. Services that were
intended to exist longer than that had to without further financial injection from JISC, the
Joint Information Systems Committee.