Open Data Institute Officially Opens In Tech City

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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ODI, backed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, says that the UK is leading the world in open data

The Sir Tim Berners-Lee-backed Open Data Institute (ODI) has opened its doors today, boldly claiming that the UK leads the way in regards to open data.

Research conducted by Deloitte revealed that although does not hold the same quantity of data as equivalent services in the US and France, it receives more daily visits than any of its foreign counterparts.

Between January 2010 and September 2012, demand for open data on the government site grew by 285 percent, although there were significant variances between supply and demand in different industry sectors.

Open Data Institute is now actually open

“Open data holds huge, largely untapped potential to change the way we function as a society,” said Gavin Starks, CEO of ODI. “The ODI will enable organisations and individuals to: find and exploit untapped markets and business opportunities; explore and understand social and cultural trends and; experiment with ways of explaining this evolving ecosystem.”

The ODI is the brainchild of Sir Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbot of the University of Southampton, and is located in London’s Tech City.

The institute was first announced in the chancellor’s autumn statement last year, in an effort to stimulate jobs by opening up public data. It is partly funded by the government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), from which it will receive £2 million over the next five years. However the ODI has announced its first major investor, Omidyar Network, which has pledged $750,000 (£465,000) over the next two years.

It also received substantial support, resources and services from the University of Southampton during its startup phase. The work of the Institute will be presented to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude at the official opening ceremony on 4 December.

“People are looking to the UK as being a leader,” said Sir Tim Berners-Lee. “A lot of people have come to me since they heard of plans to launch the ODI with questions about how they can launch one in their own country. I think it’s great to have somewhere to centralise a lot of experience, a lot of the brilliant work that people have been doing in this area both within the UK in the international community. This is just the start of amazing things that are going to happen in this space.”

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