Computer scientists Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt have said they are "disappointed" by the government's plans to cancel the Institute of Web Science.
Gordon Brown pledged £30m to the project just two months ago, but it became one of the casualties in this week's budget cuts.
The pair said in a statement, ""We are obviously disappointed at the announcement. However, we do understand that immediate decisions had to be made about what not to start, pending a wider review of priorities in the Spending Review."
They added that the department for Business Innovation and Skills says the institute is still a "proposal under development" and said the future remains bright for the project.
They also said the government appears to be supportive of their work in open data.
"It is clear from the new government's Big Society declaration, the coalition partnership and speeches such as David Cameron's to TED before the election that open government data is a high priority. Our understanding is that the data.gov.uk portal will in fact grow significantly in the months to come."
The two say linked data and the new technologies supporting it will, in the near future, enable better public services to be delivered for less, and promote new business opportunities, but they add that the open data initiative in the UK is still in its early stages.
"There is more being added to data.gov.uk all the time. As we enter a phase of cutting back on many things, the linked open data movement is a crucial tool, for government, public and industry to get the most value from the important resources being opened up. During times of austerity, transparency is essential, and open data will play a crucial role."