Data could be worth billions to UK but needs investment, say experts

 

The government-funded Open Data Institute has called on Chancellor George Osborne to give “greater investment and greater support” to the data industry in his Autumn Statement, saying it could create billions for the UK economy.

Gavin Starks, chief executive of the ODI, said data based start-ups and the increased use of stats in business “will stimulate innovation and help to create value for the UK”, saying the industry was facing a ‘web’ moment.

“The point we’re at in history, it feels like the 1994 web all over again”, Starks told the Evening Standard. “We’ve got a huge emerging industry around data that we’re right at the beginning of.”

Starks said the flood of data becoming available would impact everything from healthcare to the legal profession, just like the web before it. “We live in an era of data driven decision making”, said Starks.

The Shoreditch based Open Data Institute, which officially launches tomorrow, is a non-profit company aiming to encourage the use of data in business - everything from GPS locations to live train timetables. The Institute was co-founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web and is backed by £10 million in government funding.

Starks said the  spread and use of data will have both social and financial impact and stressed that “we simply don’t know the size of [the industry] but certainly expect [its worth] to be in the billions.” Research by Deloitte for the ODI found data.gov.uk gained more hits than its US and French equivalents, with pageviews on the site growing 285% between January 2010 and September 2012, but Starks said continued investment was needed to turn this interest into value.

Yesterday the ODI also announced its first international funding, $750,000 from the Omidyar Network, the American investment firm co-founded by eBay’s Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam.

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