Berners-Lee To Head Institute For Web Science

The web pioneer will head an organisation based at universities in Oxford and Southampton

The government has released more details about a proposed Institute for Web Science announced as part of wider plans to make the UK a leader in digital services and content.

Announced this week by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Institute will be headed up by web pioneer Sir Tim Berners Lee and web science expert Professor Nigel Shadbolt. Around £30 million has been earmarked to fund the institute which will be jointly based at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton.

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced that every home in the UK will have access to superfast broadband by 2020, dubbing it the “electricity of the digital age”.

Can Britain lead the digital revolution?

Must Read: Could Britain Lead The Digital Revolution?
Must Read: Could Britain Lead The Digital Revolution?

The role of the institute will be to bridge the gap between research and business and to commercialise web technologies according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which is backing and funding the the facility.

“We want to build on the outstanding work Sir Tim and Nigel Shadbolt have put in to ‘making public data public’,” the Prime Minister said yesterday at a speech in London. “We are determined to go further in breaking down the walled garden of Government, using technology and information to provide greater transparency on the workings of Whitehall and give everyone more say over the services they receive.”

In January, Berners Lee and Shadbolt launched the data.gov.uk site, which contains more than 2,500 sets of data from across government that are already being used for a variety of applications, including a video which shows traffic flow over the UK’s motorways over the last ten years and a “School Finder” tool to allow parents to search for schools by location and Ofsted reports.

Commenting on the launch of the web institute, business secretary Lord Mandelson said the creation of the institute would help UK companies to keep pace with developments in digital technology. “British innovation brought the web to the world. This Institute will ensure the UK remains at the forefront and that we anticipate and fully exploit the economic and social benefits of future developments,” he said. “Whether it is to allow our research institutions and innovative businesses to maximise and demonstrate the strength and attractiveness of their networks, or to ensure we make the most of clinical information to improve our understanding of disease, a new web revolution is afoot.”

Chancellor Alistair Darling will set out more detailed plans for the government’s digital streatedy in the budget on Wednesday.

Berners-Lee, along with Amstrad-founder and The Apprentice star, Sir Alan Sugar, were appointed as special advisers to help the government better engage with the Internet and boost its business credentials.

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