Government to invest £8m in open data fund

The Government has announced an £8m investment in an “open data” initiative that will help businesses gain access to public data to drive the development of new products and services.

Government Open Data
Government to launch open data fund.

The move, announced by cabinet office minister Francis Maude and business and skills minister Matthew Hancock today (12 December), will see the creation of a £7.5m Data Strategy Breakthrough Fund, to which public sector bodies can apply, and an £850,000 open Data Immersion Programme to which companies can apply.

The Immersion Programme will include a number of themed events and competitions run by The Open Data Institute (ODI) to help start-ups and SMEs understand the business opportunities within certain data sets.

Winners will be eligible for investment of up to £25,000 to fund product development.

The stimulus package is designed to encourage economic growth.

Maude says: “This new funding will help us to exploit the power of open data to fuel social and economic growth. It will free up more data for commercial exploitation and help drive innovation in public services.”

Hancock, also the sponsor of the Data Strategy Board, says: “The value and scope for open data is extremely significant. Open data can improve public services, generate new revenue streams for companies and help to stimulate economic growth. That’s why we are backing it through these new investments.

We want to help enable everyone to benefit from open data – whether it’s taxpayers, businesses, the public sector or individuals.”

The move is part of the Government’s ongoing “Open Data” scheme. Last year the Government invested £10m to set up the ODI.

A separate part of the strategy is the Midata scheme, which aims to give consumers access to their own data that has been collected by brands for marketing purposes.

Last month the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills warned it would legislate to force companies to make the data available digitally if they do not do so voluntarily by 2014 because just a few companies have made progress so far.

Read the latest issue of Data Strategy in this week’s Marketing Week magazine (13 December) or online here.

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