Nominet to fund 'worthwhile' UK internet projects

Research into issues such as security and child safety on the UK's internet could benefit from the formation of the Nominet Foundation

The organisation that runs the .uk domain is to set up a foundation devoted to research and educational initiatives in the UK internet industry.

Nominet announced on Thursday that the Nominet Foundation would be launched this summer, with initial funding of £5m. According to a statement from Nominet, the charitable organisation will promote "education, research and development initiatives".

"Over the last few months, we have consulted with our members and wider stakeholders and received very positive feedback on the idea of creating the first foundation to fund research and educational initiatives in the UK internet arena," said Lesley Cowley, Nominet's chief executive, in the statement.

"At the heart of our decision is the fact that Nominet is a not-for-profit organisation," Cowley added. "We believe any surplus income should be used for the benefit of the UK internet community. We now have a growing, successful .uk registry and the ability to fund worthwhile projects. We are extremely excited about the types of work the foundation will be able to fund."

Speaking to on Thursday, Cowley suggested some kinds of project Nominet hopes will apply for funding, although the organisation is open to any proposals. Online safety for children is one suggestion, as are community projects to increase internet access and use, and user training and education.

Cowley added that academic research projects into security would be particularly welcome applicants, because this is "quite an issue for UK stakeholders". However, she was keen to emphasise that the Nominet Foundation would not divert funding from Nominet's work on the UK's internet infrastructure and systems, claiming that "this is really the money we have left over having done that".

The planned foundation has already drawn support from Labour MP Alun Michael — now a backbencher, but until recently DTI minister of state for industry — who said on Thursday that it would "strengthen the trust and confidence of users in the online environment and support the industry's role in addressing the needs of users, businesses and society".

The Nominet Foundation's structure is currently being established and projects in search of funding will be invited to submit proposals at a later date.