Plans to establish Open Data Institute published

Plans to establish Open Data Institute published

22 May 2012

The government’s vision to establish a world-leading centre to drive innovation and growth, through exploiting the opportunities created by their Open Data policy, came closer to reality today with the publication of plans to establish an Open Data Institute in London.

The Open Data Institute (ODI –, the first of its kind in the world, will become the 'go to' venue for those seeking to create new products, entrepreneurial opportunities and economic growth from Open Data.  The initial focus will be on incubating and nurturing new businesses exploiting Open Data for economic growth.  The ODI will also promote innovation and help develop skills to drive business opportunities that use Open Data.

Minister for the Cabinet Office 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. 

 "The Open Data Institute is a big step towards this. 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."To be co-directed by Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt the ODI will be based in Shoreditch, East London.  First announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November last year and developed with help from the government’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (, the government has committed up to £10 million over five years to support the ODI.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

 “We recognise the economic and social benefits of Open Data.  That’s why the Government has been at the forefront of the Open Data movement.  We are making  more official information available than ever before.

“Data on areas like procurement, the quality of care homes and crime rates are already being used to provide innovative new services.  Now, the Open Data institute will support businesses that want to use data in imaginative new ways for everyone’s benefit.  This  will release commercial potential, driving new forms of economic growth and new benefits to individuals.”

Tim Berners-Lee said:

“The Institute will connect together lots of people excited about Open Data. Those who   produce it with those who want to put it to use in all sorts of fields and every kind of industry.”

Involving business, the public sector and academe the ODI will demonstrate the commercial value of Open Data.  While emphasising the commercial potential of Open Data, the ODI will also engage with developers and the public sector to support the entire supply chain and build sustainability.

Nigel Shadbolt said:

“We have been working to open access to non-personal government data. The UK is now a world leader in this area and the ODI will show how value can be generated from this new resource as well as training a generation of data entrepreneurs.”

The aim is for the ODI to be open for business by September 2012.  It will draw on complementary sources and users of data - businesses, the public sector, academia and overseas interests – and the ODI will serve to support greater cooperation, integration and bridge-building between them.

The core objective of the Open Data Institute will be to provide an incubator environment, where individuals and organisations from differing backgrounds and sectors can come together to explore and exploit the opportunities of Open Data.  As part of a broad range of activity the ODI will, for example:

  • Through annual open competitions, deliver focused support to small businesses that show the greatest promise for the exploitation of Open Data.  Mentoring teams will advise and help these young companies and start-ups in both the technical and business aspects of Open Data exploitation;
  • Engage with a range of businesses and facilitate and support their exploitation of Open Data.  The ODI will undertake focused engagements to demonstrate the way in which a particular business can identify Open Data that can enhance its own processes, products and services – and, consequently, grow its profitability;
  • Hold Total Immersion events – 2-4 week ‘appathons’ or ‘hackathons’ that would support specific ‘data wrangling’ activities, work on newly released data sets, or the data of a specific organisation, and provide sustained effort to develop new use cases and business cases for Open Data;
  • The ODI Jump Start scheme, which will draw on the considerable talents of UK students. The ODI will provide technical and business support for ultra early start-ups that have significant Open Data potential and offer them an opportunity to develop their business ideas with the support of the ODI for up to a year;
  • Train a cohort of Open Data entrepreneurs, developers, technologists, and evangelists through a variety of training courses to be offered in the area of Open and Linked Data Technologies. 

The government investment of up to £10 million, over five years, will be a precursor to matched funding from the private sector.  Public funding will allow the ODI to be established quickly and will lead to a coordinated and strategic programme of development and exploitation as the area grows.  

The government and public sector will also be major beneficiaries of the work of the ODI and public funding will be vital to demonstrate, encourage, promote and develop the use of this valuable resource by the private sector.  Matched funding from the private sector may comprise, for example, corporate sponsorship, donations, contributions in kind, research grants and other paid work. 

To see the implementation plan for the Open Data Institute please visit: ODI Implementation Plan.

View the full press release including notes to editors here.


Last updated on Tuesday 22 May 2012 at 16:48

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