Covid illustration (copyright: ODI)

7th January 2021

Tender reference: RDPM-058

Opportunity provided by the Open Data Institute (ODI)

Outline of the broader work and the support we are looking for

The objective of the planned work is to conduct a review/census of the current and future landscape of data institutions and develop a first iteration of a register of these institutions in the UK.

As part of this work, an initial exercise should identify and compile a list of data institutions under seven shortlisted categories identified by the Open Data Institute (ODI) as types of organisations that are currently involved in running data institutions or are likely to fulfil the role of a data institution in the near future. The exercise should also gather some key information on these organisations such as their legal status, the year of establishment, the sector they work in, their size (eg number of employees, annual revenue), their economic impact and how the organisation stewards data on behalf of others. The full list of the type of information to be collected is outlined in the register spreadsheet. The seven categories of organisations initially targeted are:

  • Public national data institutions (e.g. national statistics agency, mapping agency, met office, national archive and company register)
  • Credit reference agencies (e.g. Equifax)
  • Biobanks or similar health data hubs/repositories (e.g. UK Biobank)
  • Sector regulators (e.g. Ofcom)
  • Trade associations/industry bodies
  • Identifier agencies (e.g. UK AV Registration Agency)
  • Decentralised publishing initiatives (e.g. OpenCorporates)

The resulting first iteration of a register should help to better understand the types of organisations that are currently or in the future may be running data institutions, their likely mix as the number of data institutions increase over time, and the economic impact from data institutions.

This work at its initial phase aims at achieving breadth rather than depth by compiling an as extensive as possible list of organisations across the seven categories with the UK as its geographical scope, and filling in the information needs related to the above mentioned objective features of the organisations. Further categories might also be added to the types of organisations listed in the register to increase breadth. A second phase of the census work, planned for under the umbrella of the ODI’s broader programme of work on data institutions from April 2021 onwards, may involve increasing the depth of information by conducting surveys or interviews. The register may also be expanded in the future to include other countries.

The ODI is planning to conduct desk research to populate the first iteration of the data institutions register. To support and complement this desk research work, the team working on it is looking for support from a data analyst to automatically extract lists of organisations for agreed categories and to explore what additional information can be found about the organisations in those categories through automatic means. Tentative categories for this work include sector regulators and trade associations/industry bodies. An example of how this might look like may include carrying out an analytical trawl of legislation for public bodies that are managing data that have a duty under law that might suggest a data institution type role. Another output may be around identifying lists of industry bodies and charities over a particular size that might become future data institutions.

This work is conducted as part of the fourth year of the ODI’s R&D programme, funded by Innovate UK, and will support the ODI’s mission to increase access to data while retaining trust. Specifically, it will help inform the ODI’s long-term strategy around supporting data institutions as well as its efforts to provide a rationale for the UK government and philanthropic organisations to invest in these institutions.


Access to data is a crucial enabler for innovation, including through artificial intelligence. We are seeing an increasing number of data institutions – organisations whose purpose involves stewarding data on behalf of others, often towards public, educational or charitable aims.

There are some emerging patterns around these institutions in terms of the roles they take, the sectors they focus on or the types of activities they carry out. These institutions need support, both financial and technical, to be successful. We need to better understand what these institutions look like and how many of them we might see in what types of roles over the coming decades so we can better plan our future support for them.

We also need to be able to make the case for investing in these institutions and help inform decisions about where and how to invest. We need to compile the evidence available on the value of these institutions in order to provide an economic rationale for support for such models.


To support the ODI’s work on better understanding the current and future landscape of data institutions, and, more specifically, the creation of a register of data institutions initially focused on the UK.

In support of a first iteration of a register of data institutions, and to complement or optimise the planned desk research by the team covering research on individual organisations as well as any relevant academic or other research about the given category of organisations, we anticipate the following sets of activities:

  1. Analyse data sources to extract lists of organisations for 2–3 agreed categories of organisations. Tentative categories may include sector regulators, trade associations/industry bodies and charities.
  2. Explore what additional information can be found about the organisations in these categories through automatic means, eg their year of establishment, annual revenue etc and pull out relevant information in order to populate corresponding columns of the data institutions register spreadsheet.
  3. Document the code based on the patterns identified for 1) and 2), ie for finding the relevant organisations and for finding additional information on these organisations, such that it can be reused and re-run at any time.
  4. Explore and recommend additional methods or activities that could support the work of populating the data institutions register in both the short and medium-term as the work around the register is scaled up to cover more countries and more categories of organisations.


The main outputs of the data analysis work will be:

  • Lists of organisations for 2–3 agreed categories of organisations.
  • Populated columns for the organisations in these 2–3 categories with additional information that can be pulled out through automatic means.
  • Patterns and code for 1) and 2) documented.
  • A brief description of recommendations for additional methods or activities that can make the process of identifying lists of organisations and finding additional information on them more efficient.

You will work as part of the ODI team, who will also provide guidance, review and assistance throughout the work and provide feedback on the different outputs.

Summary and timeline

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A more specific timeline with milestones will be agreed upon with the data analyst upon contracting.

Terms of payment

50% of the total amount will be invoiced halfway through the work, and the remaining 50% will be invoiced on satisfactory completion of the work, including responses to all feedback from the ODI and paid within 30 days.


You will work closely with the ODI team for the duration of this work and take part in regular planning meetings with them. These will be via video call for the duration of the work.

Application requirements

Interested parties should submit an initial research plan (in English) to [email protected] with reference RDPM-058, which includes:

  • CV that outlines your skills and experience
  • Daily rate together with a confirmation of the number of days you would anticipate the work to take, along with your availability
  • Maximum 2-page proposal outlining how you would approach achieving the objectives of the consultancy, eg what methods or data sources you would consider to carry out the tasks

If you have any questions about the opportunity, please contact [email protected] quoting RDPM-058. The ODI reserves the right to make both anonymised questions and answers public or shared with other organisations having stated their interest.