Berners-Lee's Open Data Institute opens doors with funding from eBay founder

Pierre Omidyar's philanthropic investment firm has pledged $750k for the otherwise government-funded Open Data Institute, which is due to formally open its doors on Tuesday.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The Open Data Institute is set to open its doors after picking up its first major private investment, in the form of $750k from the Omidyar Network.

The non-profit ODI, founded by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and leading web academic Nigel Shadbolt, was announced last year by the government, which is putting in £10m in funding. It will formally launch on Tuesday.

As its name suggests, the institute aims to develop the idea of open data and create new ways in which it can be used. It will do this through research and also by acting as a business incubator.

The Omidyar Network, meanwhile, is a 'philanthropic investment firm' set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. According to a statement from the ODI on Monday, the $750,000 (£467,000) investment demonstrates the UK's leadership in the 'open data industry'.

"The Open Data Institute will accelerate and help shape the evolution of an open-data culture," Omidyar Network policy chief Martin Tisné said in a statement. "It will unlock supply, generate demand, and create and disseminate knowledge to address local and global issues. Omidyar Network is pleased to support the Open Data Institute and contribute to building the global open-data sector."

Although the official opening is yet to take place, the ODI is already incubating four start-ups, namely big data firm Mastodon C, transportation app provider Placr, house-hunting service Locatable and company filings repository Open Corporates.

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