The University of Southampton

£30 million institute for Web Science will lead the way in Web 3.0

Published: 22 March 2010

The Government today announced the creation of the new Institute for Web Science.

It is designed to make the UK the hub of international research into the next generation of web and internet technologies and their commercialisation, and was announced by the Prime Minister alongside plans for a radical opening up of information and data to put more power in people’s hands. The Institute will conduct research, collaborate with businesses, identify opportunities for social and economic benefit, assist in commercialising research and help Government stimulate demand through procurement.

The web was originally a place where people published documents that users could search and pick up. Web 2.0 has enabled users to contribute and create web content more easily. Web 3.0 will take the web to a whole new level by publishing data in a linkable format so that users and developers can see and exploit the relationships between different sets of information.

The development of these technologies will create significant new opportunities for business and the public sector. The impact of these technologies is likely to be as important as the creation of the original web, and could generate large-scale economic benefits for the UK in the global market for web and internet technologies. The role of the Institute will be to undertake research and development, and act as a bridge between research and business, helping commercialise these new technologies. It will also advise Government on how semantic technologies can be used in the public sector, and how public procurement can be used to speed their adoption.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that £30 million would be set aside to create the Institute for Web Science. It will be headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British inventor of the World Wide Web, and leading Web Science expert Professor Nigel Shadbolt.

Speaking in London the Prime Minister said:

“We want to build on the outstanding work Sir Tim and Nigel Shadbolt have put in to ‘making public data public’. We are determined to go further in breaking down the walled garden of Government, using technology and information to provide greater transparency on the workings of Whitehall and give everyone more say over the services they receive.

“This Institute will help place the UK at the cutting edge of research on the Semantic Web and other emerging web and internet technologies and ensure the Government is taking the right funding decisions to position the UK as a world leader. We will invite universities and private sector web developers and companies to join this collaborative project.”

The Institute, to be funded through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will strengthen the UK’s world-leading capability in the development of semantic web technologies as well as others that enable the extraction of value from information. It will bring together the best minds from around the world to deliver the benefits of advances in web technology to businesses and individuals.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said:

“British innovation brought the web to the world. This Institute will ensure the UK remains at the forefront and that we anticipate and fully exploit the economic and social benefits of future developments.”

Whether it is to allow our research institutions and innovative businesses to maximise and demonstrate the strength and attractiveness of their networks, or to ensure we make the most of clinical information to improve our understanding of disease, a new web revolution is afoot.

Government support for this Institute as well as early adoption of these emerging technologies in the public sector arena will allow the UK to lead the way and help pull this technology through to the market place.

The Institute for Web Science will be jointly based in the Universities of Oxford and Southampton. It is still subject to contract.

This news release was issued at 12.30 GMT, Monday 22 March by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

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