ODI helps unlock £11m for open data innovation in Europe

ODI startup programme to be replicated across Europe

Building on the success of the ODI startup programme, training business and research functions, and combining the skills of world-class partners, the EU has committed €14.4m (£11m) to three initiatives to catalyse open data innovation across the region.

1. €7.8m Europe-wide incubator programme based on the ODI’s startup programme

2. €3.7m Europe-wide web data research network

3. €2.9m new academy to train the next generation of data scientists

This is the largest direct investment in open data startups in the world, to date.

Announcing the new investments, Gavin Starks, CEO at the ODI said: “This is a decisive investment by the EU to create open data skills, build capabilities, and provide fuel for open data startups across Europe. It combines three key drivers for open adoption: financing startups, deepening our research and evidence, and training the next generation of data scientists, to exploit emerging open data ecosystems.”

Europe-wide incubator programme based on the ODI’s startup programme

The EU has committed €7.8 million to realise a 30-month incubator programme for open data entrepreneurs across Europe, via its Horizon 2020 funding programme. Seven partners (see below), led by the University of Southampton, bid for the funding to develop an Open Data Incubator for Europe (ODInE). ODInE will be modelled on the ODI’s highly successful Startup Programme, which has so far supported 18 companies, five of which have now graduated from the scheme. Analysis in June found that companies on the ODI’s startup programme had secured over £2.5m in funding and investment since joining.

The ODI will deliver the incubator programme, recruiting new startups every two months, approximately 50 startups in total. The ODI will receive €500k to administer the project and €5.5 million will be allocated to successful applicants of the programme to develop their concepts, around €50k-€100k per company. In addition, each will receive mentoring, technology, infrastructure and networking support. ODInE will launch in Spring 2015.

The successful seven-part consortium to win the funding comprises: University of Southampton, The Open Data Institute, Telefonica, The Guardian, Open Future, Wayra, Fraunhofer, Open Knowledge Foundation (Germany).

Europe-wide web data research network

The ODI, in conjunction with five other partners, has successfully secured funding of €3.7m to create a network of 15 early-stage researchers across Europe, each of whom will focus on a different aspect of the question “how can we answer complex questions with web data?”.

The funding will be issued over four years and will enable each partner to create two to three PhD positions. The ODI will receive €500k from the total and will host two students who will look at how developers, and open data users, find the right datasets to solve their data needs. They will address questions such as: ‘What happens when users combine datasets which are licensed in different ways?’.

The project is called WDAqua (Web Data and Question Answering), and part of the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITN), which is also funded via Horizon 2020.

The six WDAqua partners are: The Open Data Institute, University of Bonn, Fraunhofer, University of Southampton, Université Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne, University of Athens.

New academy to train the next generation of data scientists

The third funded project will see the creation of a new European Data Science Academy (EDSA). EDSA will train a generation of data scientists with the skills and detailed knowledge to enable European businesses to flourish in the data age.

EDSA will use a combination of the latest data analysis and eLearning technologies to produce a European-wide dashboard for analysing and understanding industrial data, science skill requirements, and consequently develop and deliver open educational materials to meet the demand.

The Horizon 2020 programme total investment is €2.9m. The ODI will receive €323k and will lead the analysis of the required sector-specific skillsets for data analysts across the main industrial sectors in Europe. The ODI will also be providing support to help the wider project to: develop modular and adaptable data science curricula to meet these skills needs deliver training supported by multiplatform and multilingual learning resources based on the curricula.

The EDSA partner organisations are: Open Data Institute (UK), The Open University (UK), University of Southampton, Institut Jozef Stefan (Slovenia), Fraunhofer (Germany), Kungiga Tekniska Hoegskolan (Sweden), Idexlab (France), Persontyle Limited (UK), Technisce Universiteit Eindhoven (Netherlands).