Institute for Web Science Axed In Spending Cuts


Academic organisation led by Tim Berners-Lee will no longer receive funding under new government’s £6.2 billion efficiency plans

Funding for the new Institute for Web Science has been cut only three months after it was first announced.

The department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) revealed the early demise if the institute yesterday, as part of plans to deliver 3.9 percent savings from its total budget. The departmental savings will contribute to the £6.2 billion in savings being announced by the new coalition government to reduce the budget deficit.

The BIS said in a statement that research councils are investing £117 million in a Digital Economy Programme to help drive related research, and over £30 million in semantic web projects. Its plans for delivering £18 million in savings, are “still under development”.

Investment in web science

The former Labour government had earmarked around £30 million to fund the institute, which was based at the Universities of Oxford and Southampton. Professor Nigel Shadbolt, who had lead the institute’s work with fellow web scientist Sir Tim Berners Lee, told the BBC the team was “obviously disappointed” by the cuts.

Both Shadbolt and Berners-Lee also spearheaded the launch of the site in January, which aims to make government datasets more accessible to application developers for public information access.

Shadbolt said it was understandable that immediate decisions had to be made on project spending that had not yet got off the ground, “pending a wider review of priorities in the Spending Review and the development of a fuller business case”.

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