Public Services > Central Government

Government to invest £8m in open data

Charlotte Jee Published 12 December 2012

Public bodies encouraged to release data for commercial opportunities


The government is to invest £8m to help public bodies release data. The funding is aimed at encouraging public sector organisations, including government departments, agencies and local authorities, to release more data 'so that companies can develop commercial opportunities for that data', according to an official statement.

The funding, which will run to 2015, will be used for a new £7.5m Data Strategy Board Breakthrough Fund, to which public sector bodies can apply, and a new £850,000 Open Data Immersion Programme, to which companies can apply.

The Breakthrough Fund will help public bodies to release data 'where there are short term technical barriers to data release', while the Open Data Immersion programme 'will provide support to companies looking to reuse data to develop ideas for new products and services'.

The programme will include a range of different events and competitions, run by the recently-launched Open Data Institute . The aim of these is to encourage SMEs and start-up companies to work with data owners to learn about the business opportunities presented by different data sets.

Competition winners will be offered a £20,000 to £25,000 investment to support them in taking their concepts into early products development.

Part of the investment will also be used to upgrade the format in which Ordnance Survey (OS) data can be downloaded. The government says that the aim of this upgrade is to make OS data 'easier, more accurate and more flexible for companies to use'.

All of the measures announced are expected to be in place by early April 2013.

Commenting on the development, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said, "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, help drive innovation in public services...and will help embed transparency in the private sector."

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