Open Data Institute appoints new CEO and Technical Director

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has named Gavin Starks, founder of environmental data website AMEE, as its new CEO.


The Open Data Institute (ODI) has named Gavin Starks, founder of environmental data website AMEE, as its new CEO.

It has also appointed Jeni Tennison, who is currently serving as the technical architect of for The Stationary Office and The National Archives, as technical director.

The ODI, which will be co-directed by creator of the World Wide Web Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, was first announced by Chancellor George Osborne last November in his Autumn statement.

“I have been an advocate for open data as a transformative force for change for many years. I now believe open data is not just a “nice to have” but critical to our future. We are in an age where data-driven decisions are made on a daily basis but the quality of our data is often lacking or misunderstood,” said Starks.

“As CEO of the Open Data Institute, I am determined to ensure that we demonstrate the value of open data, drive up data standards, and collaborate with world-class talent across the UK and beyond: to make data useable, accessible, and scalable–to the benefit of the public, the environment and the economy.”

The government hopes that the ODI will help new start-up companies get off the ground, get SMEs and larger corporates to develop their use of open data, develop ODI technologists, who will be trained in specialist skills to create new products and services from open data, and enable public sector organisations to become publishers of high quality open data.

Berners-Lee praised the appointments and said: “"The new institute is starting with a two top-notch leaders. Gavin and Jeni each bring a passion for what we are doing, lots of relevant experience, and very strong skills. This is a great start for the ODI."

The government has committed up to £10 million over five years to support the ODI, which has been developed with the Technology Strategy Board.

It hopes to receive matched funding from the private sector, for example through corporate sponsorship, donations, research grants and other paid work.

Based in Shoreditch in East London’s Tech City, the institute is scheduled to open for business by September 2012.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, also recently launched a whitepaper that details the government’s drive to release data into the public domain for analysis and re-use, but said at the time that ‘there is nothing easy about transparency’ and the ‘formative years of open government will be tricky’.

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