State of Open Source Hardware 2021 report presented

After the shutdown of the Open Source Hardware data organisation (OSHdata) in April this year, it seemed that their activity quantifying the development of the Open Hardware community had come to an end. Fortunately, the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA) has, in part, taken over the legacy of OSHdata. A few days ago they presented a new report on the state of Open Source Hardware. In it they show different statistics and interesting information with the current state (as of 1 July) of the community. Last year’s report produced by OSHdata focused more on the commercialisation of open hardware projects. This year’s report is dedicated to the community and the effects of free hardware on its members. Below is a summary of the highlights.

Expermients with electronics and sound. Image by Chris Obrist from Unsplash.

Certification rate

Undoubtedly 2020 was the best year ever for open source hardware projects (something good had to come out of the pandemic). Last year alone, a total of 959 new projects were certified. This figure is more than double the sum of all other years and brings the total to almost 1600 certified projects. One of these projects is Bike Pixels.

Bar chart showing the number of OSHWA-certified projects between 2016 and 2021.
Number of certificates issued annually between 2016 and 2021 (as of July 1). OSHWA under CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Project types

When we perform the certificate process, we must assign it within a main category (e.g. Bike Pixels falls into the wearables). The most popular category is electronic components. This includes any basic module that allows you to build other devices based on these components. No doubt this is because two of the biggest contributors within OSHWA are the component sales companies SparkFun and Adafruit. These two alone account for a total of 847 projects (more than half of the total).

Bar chart with the number of certificates issued by category. The electronics category is the most popular with a total of 1218 projects.
Main theme of the projects certified between 2016 and 2021. OSHWA under CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Furthermore, if we distribute these categories by country, excluding electronics, we can see that apart from the United States, where there are more certified projects (as well as the home of OSHWA), there are several countries that stand out in the other categories. Among these countries are Bulgaria (which has the highest number of certificates per capita), Mexico and Germany.

Chart linking countries and categories.
Distribution of countries by category. OSHWA under CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Certificates by country

With the exception of Antarctica, certified projects are distributed over all continents. Although in Africa only because Mauritius appeared on the list in 2020. This small country currently has 7 certified projects. Along with this country, in the last year and a half, projects from 11 new countries have been added. It has gone from 36 in the 2020 report to a total of 46 certified countries. Apart from Mauritius, the new additions include Portugal (with 4 projects), Russia (4 projects), Czech Republic (also 4), Guatemala (4), Turkey (3), Ecuador (2) or Israel (1) amoung others.

Mapa indicando el año de emisión del primer certificado por países.
Year of issuance of the first certificate by country between 2016 and 2021 (status as of July 1st 2021). OSHWA under CC BY-SA 4.0 license.


The year 2020 has been the best year in terms of the number of projects that have been certified by OSHWA. Undoubtedly the COVID-19 pandemic has helped many projects that were waiting for some spare time to come to light.

On the other hand, with the incorporation of the first projects in Africa, we can speak of a global organization that can revolutionize the way in which different hardware elements are produced and manufactured. We will see this in the next report on the state of Open Source Hardware to be presented on following years.

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