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Berners-Lee’s incubator, the non-profit Open Data Institute, receives first outside investment
/ December 3, 2012 10:14 am

The United Kingdom’s Open Data Institute, the non-profit which incubates startups that utilize government data, is set for its official opening Dec. 4. It also today announced its first outside funding, $750,000 from philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network, as part of its strategy to become sustainable in the long term through investment and direct revenue.

Co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (often called “the inventor of the World Wide Web”) and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, both of southern England’s University of Southampton, the ODI is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan company initially funded by £10 million (about $16 million) over five years via the U.K. government’s Technology Strategy Board.

Berners-Lee (pictured) said ODI was an example of the Web’s potential, explaining, “One of the reasons the Web worked was because people reused each other’s content in ways never imagined by those who created it.”

ODI already has four startups under its wing: Mastodon C, which creates solutions for big data management and analytics using  open source technology and zero-carbon infrastructure; Placr, which provides a central source of transportation data for its own and other developers to create commuter-focused apps; Locatable, a free service that helps people find a place to live based on the factors that are most important to them; and Open Corporates, which is striving to bring all the information about the world’s companies together in one place.

At its ribbon cutting, the ODI will present new research and an update on its activities to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, whose responsibilities include the government’s Technology Strategy Board. When the ODI was announced, Maude said, ‘The creation of the Open Data Institute – the first organisation of its kind in the world – underlines our determination to maximize the potential of data as a material for economic and social growth.”

Incidentally, Berners-Lee was featured in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, providing another opportunity to criticize NBC’s coverage when its hosts did not know who he was.

Related links:

Open Data Institute – http://www.theodi.org

Open Data Institute – press release

Omidyar – http://www.omidyar.com

Open Data Institute – information regarding startups

London Press Service – Plans for the world’s first Open Data Institute

Photo of Sir Tim Berners-Lee courtesy of London Press Service


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