Birmingham has been chosen as the UK's national centre for open source and open stand-ards - creating a new home for strategic thinking about the free software and its standards.
The National Open Centre will build on the expertise of its f ounding partners; the National Computing Centre, Birmingham City Council, Open Advantage, Midland Open Source Technologies and Digital Birmingham.
The aim is to create a national policy institute for open source and open standards - a platform, according to the founding partners, for "creating tomorrow."
At an international level, as use of open source has grown the debate around it has matured, followed by strategic development and implementation - most obviously around document formats, but also on the place of open source in inter-operable systems, public sector procurement, digital rights management, security and communications protocols.
In several countries, including Finland, India and the US, national centres are already in existence to coordinate this kind of strategic thinking about open source.
However, according to Scott Thompson, director of Open Advantage: "Unlike other countries, there is no UK focal point for strategic thinking on open source and open standards.
"Open Advantage is pioneering the use of open source in UK small businesses and has been very successful in delivering practical advice and guidance to the companies involved.
"It is now time to take stock of our achievements and refocus. With partners and sponsors, we aim to influence open source and open standards strategy in the UK.
"This will in turn ensure that the UK IT sector remains effective and innovative and able to make the most of future opportunities."
Coun Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council and chair of the Digital Birmingham board, added: "I welcome the initiative, which is another step in building Birmingham as an international and innovative city and the 'digital city' of the future.
"I am particularly pleased, because open source software offers choice for our communities and businesses and allows free software to be used for recycled computers."
Annette King, Digital Birmingham innovation manager, said: "Birmingham City Council is already reaping the rewards from introducing open source software into numerous aspects of IT, both for service delivery to customers and in the back office.
"The city is delighted to be part of a new era in IT which will increase efficiencies and effectiveness in the delivery of public services."
Ed Downs, research manager at NCC, said the new NOC will be "independent and informed, transparent and inclusive.
"It will be authoritative, not simply advocate. This continues the strategic mission NCC was set up with 40 years ago to make effective use of computing in the UK."
The NOC aims to work together with other organisations and individuals to create an advisory group, drawing on public initiatives and users, private sector stakeholders, the voluntary sector and open source community interests.
The official launch of the National Open Centre will take place in the House of Commons in January next year.