Gordon Brown yesterday announced that the University of Southampton will partner the University of Oxford in the joint establishments of an Institute for Web Science.
Intended to keep the UK at the forefront of research and development in the World Wide Web, it will follow the track record both institutions have of engaging with business to commercialise research and attempt to fully understand, anticipate and exploit the economic potential of the Web.
The institute is hosted by Professor Nigel Shadbolt and Professor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Professor Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deputy Head (Research) of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. Sir Tim Berners-Lee an Oxford graduate is the 3Com Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also a Professor in the Electronics and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton and is credited with inventing the World Wide Web. In June 2009, the pair were together appointed by the Prime Minister as Information Advisors with the intent of transforming public access to Government information.
Talking of the newly formed Institute and the role of the web in the future Professor Shadbolt commented, “The Web is one of the most disruptive and transformative innovations we have ever witnessed. We must understand the forces that have shaped it, anticipate its evolution and determine its future social and economic impact. But we must also research a next generation of the Web. The announcement today will allow us to do this in the UK and to ensure that we remain pioneers and world class in this critical area.”
The Institute will look overseas to attract funding and talent from around the world to help build on the current reputation of the two universities. Talking of the Institute’s importance to Southampton University, Vice- Chancellor Professor Donald Nutbeam remarked, “I am delighted that Southampton will play such a fundamental role in shaping the next-generation technologies and capabilities of the World Wide Web. I congratulate Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt for their recent work which has demonstrated the transformational power of the Web in delivering data and information which is of real value”. He also commented that “This new role will build on Southampton’s established world-class research and expertise in Web Science. We now look forward to working with universities and business around the world as we take this research initiative forward”.