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DataIQ Awards 2017 winner – Lifetime Achievement Award: Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Prof Sir Nigel Shadbolt

In choosing this year’s recipients of the award, DataIQ looked for individuals who had combined influence and impact with transformation of a critical aspect of the data industry. With the Open Data Institute (ODI) reaching its fifth anniversary, the obvious candidates were its co-founders, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

As a computer scientist, Sir Tim is best known as the inventor of the world wide web. For this monumental achievement, he was made a KBE in 2004 and in April 2017, he was awarded the A.M. Turing prize from the Association for Computing Machinery. 

As a long-term advocate of open data, Sir Tim has suggested a five-star rating scheme to encourage its standardisation. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, which advances the idea of the web as a public good and a basic right. In an article for The Guardian in early 2017, he called for everyone to work together to strike a balance with web-based companies that puts a fair level of data control back in the hands of the people. Sir Tim has been a science fiction fan since childhood (when he was also a keen train spotter).

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt

AI expert and researcher, Sir Nigel is at the forefront of the inter-disciplinary field of web science and has published over 500 articles. He founded and was the chief technology officer of identity protection company, Garlick, which was awarded Technology Pioneer status by the Davos World Economic Forum, before being acquired by Experian in 2011. 

In 2011, he was appointed chair of the UK’s government midata initiative, which aims to allow consumers to access their data safely and securely. He has said, that in order to take advantage of the data revolution, policymakers, businesses and citizens needs to become data literate. He was knighted in 2013 for his services to science and engineering. Sir Nigel admitted to being “a bit of a petrol head” and he has been collecting fossils since he was a child.

Working together

In 2009, both Sir Tim and Sir Nigel were appointed information advisors by the Prime Minister to transform access to public sector information. They worked together leading the team which developed data.gov.uk, the single point of access for over 9,000 datasets of non-personal government open data. They are both members of the Public Sector Transparency Board, was set up in 2010 to drive the government’s transparency agenda.


The Open Data Institute was set up in 2012 following a £10 million funding award form the Technology Strategy Board of the UK Government. Its aim is to confront the global challenges of today using the web of data. It offers individuals the chance to learn about open data and helps organisations to bring about a cultural change and develop a strategic vision for data. 

Cities around the world can become nodes of the ODI to drive and share innovation in their region. On the board of this non-profit, non-partisan organisation sit, among others, Lastminute.com co-founder, Baroness Martha Lane Fox, and former European Commissioner, Neelie Kroes. Sir Tim is currently president while Sir Nigel serves as chairman. The motto of the ODI is, “knowledge is for everyone.”

DataIQ Awards 2017
Year: 2017
Category: Lifetime Achievement Award

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