Firm that revolutionised access to library databases across the world celebrates 25th birthday

July 24, 2020

A company that started out providing electronic access to library databases from its Bath headquarters and is now a world-leading identity and access management specialist is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

OpenAthens was launched to commercially exploit single sign-on software originally developed by the IT department of the University of Bath. 

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.

The name OpenAthens was chosen in reference to Athena, the Greek goddess of knowledge and learning, to reflect the focus on open standards and commitment to working with the knowledge community.

It is now a market leading global access management not-for-profit organisation employing 53 staff at its head office, which relocated to Bristol three years ago. Its technology is used by more than 2,600 organisations across multiple sectors in 50-plus countries.

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

OpenAthens is still dedicated to removing barriers to knowledge and creating access to quality content for as many people as possible, while protecting that same content from misuse. 

Commercial director Jon Bentley, pictured, 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 now part of Bristol-based Jisc, the UK’s technology solutions organisation for higher and further education, following the 2018 merger with its parent company Eduserv, which was founded in Bath in 1999.

Eduserv, which specialises in digital transformation in local government, public bodies, healthcare, charities, higher education and emergency services, relocated from Bath to Bristol in 2017.

OpenAthens will mark its 25th anniversary with a range of celebratory activities over the next few months in recognition of staff, customers and partners.

Activities will reflect its key values, 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. The celebrations will also focus on OpenAthens’ commitment to future innovation.

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across the Bath area for just £75 a month. Email for more information.