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The University of Southampton

Southampton professors to co-direct the world’s first Open Data Institute to support UK business growth

Published: 25 May 2012
 Professor Nigel Shadbolt
Professor Shadbolt will co-direct the ODI

The Government has announced plans to establish the world’s first Open Data Institute, which will be co-directed by University of Southampton Professors Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to support growth of new businesses on the back of Government data.

Based in Shoreditch in East London's Tech City, the world-leading Open Data Institute (ODI) will become the 'go to' venue for those seeking to create new products, entrepreneurial opportunities and economic growth from open data.

Initially the ODI will incubate, nurture and mentor new businesses that exploit open data to create new products and business opportunities to help drive economic growth. Further activities planned for the institute include 'appathons' or 'hackathons', to support work on newly-released data sets and to develop new use cases for open data.

It will promote innovation driven by the Government’s Open Data policy, helping the public sector use its own data more effectively and developing the capability of UK businesses to exploit the commercial value of open data.

Co-director of the ODI Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and Chair of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, says:

“One of the reasons the Web worked was because people reused each other’s content in ways never imagined by those who created it. The same will be true of Open Data. The Institute will allow us to provide the tools, skills and methods to support the creation of new value using Open Government Data.”

Professor Nigel Shadbolt, Head of the Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton and co-director of the ODI, adds:

“Data is the new raw material of the 21st century and the UK is world-leading in the release of Open Government Data. The ODI will be a place that develops the very best UK talents in Open Data. It will be a focal point where current and future entrepreneurs and developers, technologists and creatives meet, share ideas, make things happen and drive growth.”

The Government is to commit up to £10m over five years to support the Open Data Institute through the Technology Strategy Board in an unprecedented, match funded collaboration with industry and academic centres.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “We don't just want to lead the world in releasing government data - our aim is to make the UK an international role model in exploiting the potential of open data to generate new businesses and stimulate growth.

“Establishing a centre of excellence and expertise in the heart of technology start-ups will support the very best UK talents to innovate and drive value from the data this government is opening up.”

The ODI will officially open in September, with a core team of six senior staff and 10-12 others working part time.

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