With $3 million in funding and the blessing of the federal government, a mix of public, private, and academic organizations will be creating an Open Data Institute in Waterloo, Ont.

During Tuesday’s budget announcement, the federal government said it would be allocating $3 million over the next three years towards building the Open Data Institute. The funding will come through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

To match the government’s funding, the Open Data Institute is also getting another $3 million from the organizations tapped to create it – the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN), the University of Waterloo, startup accelerator Communitech, and two Waterloo-area companies, Open Text Corp., and Desire2Learn Inc.

All told, the $6 million will be used to build a common standard framework around open data, establishing a standard that Canadian businesses can use when tapping into data sources. It will also go toward to prototyping tools to gain access to government data, integrating that data, and providing a place where people and businesses can collaborate on data-related projects.

“We know what we want to achieve, we know what we want from a deliverable perspective, we know the importance of it,” says Kevin Tuer, managing director of the CDMN. He was at the budget lockup in Ottawa on Tuesday, waiting to hear if the Open Data Institute would get funding.

“It’s nice to have the funds to be able to develop this, but it’s great to see the federal government sees the importance of data for national good.”

While there is already a Canadian Open Data Institute (CODI) listed online, this new program is a separate thing, Tuer says. CODI focuses on educating people about the open data movement, while the Open Data Institute is more about ensuring data is available to entrepreneurs.

“We’ve got representation from the private sector, as well as academia, and now obviously from the government,” he adds. “We believe that we have all the components and all the players and the capabilities and the skills required in order to execute on the deliverables and strategies for the Open Data Institute … This is all about taking a leadership position in open data on a global basis.”

In its budget documents, the federal government said it would continue to release data sets, to and to support any Open Data Institute “appathons,” or contests where people would be building apps for using open data.

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