£1.1 million boost for open-data business innovation

Businesses making use of public open data may be able to apply for £1.1 million worth of new 'innovation vouchers' to improve their processes and target new markets, the Government has announced.

Around £2 million over the next three years has already been pledged towards the innovation voucher scheme, providing start-ups and small- and medium-sized businesses with up to £5,000 to work with experts - such as universities and research organisations - to gain new knowledge.

The additional £1.1 million will be offered to companies wanting to use public open data to create business opportunities, such as commercialising ideas and developing products.

Universities and science minister David Willets said: "This new wave of innovation vouchers will give SMEs a great opportunity to bid for funding that can make a real difference to the growth of their business ideas."

"They will be able to develop exciting proposals that can make use of open data, which have the potential to unlock great value and boost economic growth."

The voucher scheme forms part of the Government's commitment to providing greater public data transparency.

More than £8 million worth of investment was announced this week by cabinet office minister Francis Maude and business and skills minister Matthew Hancock to help public bodies release data to developing companies.

The investment will be split between:

  • a £7.5 million data strategy board to help Government departments and local authorities release data
  • an £850,00 open data immersion programme to which companies can apply
  • upgrades to the way Ordnance Survey data is downloaded by companies, the Government and individuals

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said that innovation vouchers could be used by those wanting to:

  • develop or grow services and solutions using open data
  • develop an idea into a working prototype
  • integrate open data with other data sources to develop products and prototypes
  • seek intellectual property advice for ideas on incorporating open data

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