OpenAthens celebrates 25 years’ enabling access to knowledge

    World-leading identity and access management specialist OpenAthens is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

    The Bristol-based organisation will mark the milestone with a range of celebratory activities over the next few months which will include recognition of staff, customers and partners.

    Activities will be organised in recognition of the key values of OpenAthens. Specifically, showcasing how the organisation has helped people achieve great things over its quarter century history. It will also continue its ongoing commitment to providing excellent customer service and support. Finally, celebrations will focus on OpenAthens’ commitment to future innovation.

    Formed in 1995 to provide access to the National Information Services and Systems (NISS) and Bath Information and Data Service (BIDS), the single sign-on software was originally developed by the IT department of the University of Bath.

    In its early years, OpenAthens was one of the first organisations to provide electronic access to library databases. The team working on the project spotted its potential for use by other educational institutions. Within a couple of years, it had been adopted by universities across the UK.

    OpenAthens is now a market leading global access management organisation. Employing 53 staff from its head office in Bristol. Its technology is used by more than 2,600 organisations across multiple sectors, in over 50 countries.

    The name OpenAthens references Athena, the Greek goddess of knowledge and learning and reflects the focus on open standards and commitment to working with the knowledge community.

    While the original technology has advanced rapidly and the publishing and library sectors have undergone huge changes over the last two decades, the basic principles and aims remain the same.

    OpenAthens continues its dedication to removing barriers to knowledge and creating access to quality content for as many people as possible, while protecting that same content from misuse.

    Commenting on the anniversary OpenAthens’ commercial director Jon Bentley said: “We have come a long way from our first deployment as an internal access management system and are proud that we were one of the first services to provide electronic access to library databases.

    “We believe our success and growth over 25 years has been down to our three key values around which our work has always been based: helping people achieve great things; providing excellent customer service; and supporting and innovating for the future.”

    OpenAthens is a not for profit organisation and is now a Jisc enterprise, following the merger in 2019 with its parent company Eduserv.