To say the Open Data Institude (ODI) know a thing or two about big data would be understatement. In the 18 months since it opened its doors as an all-in-one data science school, research institute, startup accelerator, and business franchise, they’ve made a mark on the big data market. They’ve trained 300 people from 14 countries, found 80 members for its corporate membership programme (some of whom by £50,000 a year) and posted profits of £2 million. So when its Director, Gavin Starks, call for more open data, perhaps we should sit up and pay attention.

Starks recently sat down with the Wall Street Journal, and insisted that open data “isn’t just about taking data that we used to charge for and making it free. It’s about saying, where do we stimulate open innovation in this world, and how do we let a million flowers bloom out of that rather than just a handful?”

He was also asked how could opening up data be beneficial to large enterprises? “Why does Google have an open API for maps?”, he responded. “What’s the benefit to Google? For many years Google offered their maps for free, and now that company and its maps are huge. There’s a good share-a-like model, which is really powerful online.

“US-based Red Hat RHT +0.83%, Inc. a billion dollar software company, took the open source operating system Linux and built an open source community around it. They now sell open source software. GitHub Inc, a US-based website for software developers to share and collaborate on code, has millions of developers using its site. If you want to use their service for free you have to open source your software. As soon as you click a closed repository, they charge you. Github raised $100 million in their Series A on a $750 million valuation. There’s benefit for developers too: Github is one of the primary places any recruiter who knows what they’re doing in the software industry goes to hire people.

“Who would have thought that this would be one of the outcomes for setting up a code-sharing repository? The net benefit is that more people engage in developing products.”

Open data allows for open development and innovation; and open data & big bucks aren’t as diametrically opposed as you might think.

Read more here.
(Image credit: The Open Data Institute)

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