Data institutions mentorship graphic

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has enrolled four organisations into its ‘Data institutions mentorship programme’. Over the next few months, we will be supporting them with tailored help including workshops, one-to-one advice, networking opportunities, and knowledge sharing. 

The participants will become part of the ‘Academy’ stream of the mentorship programme – designed for very early-stage data institutions seeking inspiration and to develop new skills, and were chosen following an open call. They will be able to access free guidance from experts within the ODI network to help them overcome the challenges which developing data institutions typically face, such as choosing the right technology and designing the most effective data governance processes. 

The four new Academy mentees are: 


Agrimetrics is one of four Agri-Tech Centres, part-funded by Innovate UK. Its mission is to transform the agri-food sector through a thriving ‘data marketplace’, where data can be easily shared, monetised and accessed. 

The Agrimetrics Data Marketplace forms essential, national data infrastructure to help government departments, researchers, commercial organisations and farming groups create impact through integrating data to gain insights and boost productivity. Organisations can meet their ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) goals and take collective action on some of the industry’s most difficult problems, such as combating antimicrobial resistance in livestock. 

Agrimetrics’s technology infrastructure can provide underpinning capabilities for different types of data institutions, tackling different issues. It wants to work with the ODI to explore what sort of ‘super-governance’ structure it should form with other industry participants, to unlock the value of appropriately governed and shared data.  

Benjamin Turner, Chief Operating Officer of Agrimetrics, says:

"We want to become an authority on the power of data institutions within the UK agri-food sector, and turn our strategic objectives into reality. Support from the ODI’s ‘Data institutions mentorship programme’ will accelerate our thinking and capability building and give us the best chance of maximising our impact. We are looking forward to accessing the ODI’s resources and sharing ideas with a range of other organisations who are also on this journey."

Living Oxford

The Living Oxford network is a community interest company (CIC) which is establishing a framework for living labs in Oxfordshire. A ‘living lab’ is a user-centric concept that involves sharing research and information via an open innovation ecosystem. Living Oxford aims to analyse and share learning from past and existing living labs across all sectors to deliver better solutions to real-world problems. 

A key aim for Living Oxford is the development of a data trust to enable living labs to continue to collaborate and support sustainable data sharing as projects grow and evolve, without continually needing to negotiate changes to agreements when individual projects end. The data trust would steward access to various datasets and implement a permissions structure for sharing and innovation while still allowing the owners to retain their rights and make decisions about the range of uses for the data they provide. 

Bindu Varkey, Company Director of Living Oxford, says:

"Currently we have a simplified MVP and user interface for the data trust which is being developed and tested and we are looking forward to working with the ODI to develop data agreements, establish a robust business model, understand policy requirements, and co-create a data trust framework which we hope will eventually lead to a national data trust framework for all the Living Lab projects throughout the UK."

Tech Talent Charter

Tech Talent Charter (TCC) is a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to address inequality in the UK digital economy and drive inclusion and diversity. So far TTC has over 650 companies as signatories, ranging from global enterprises to startups. 

TTC gathers data from its signatories for the purpose of open-sourcing it for public benefit. This includes diversity metrics and information on equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) practices, which is anonymised and aggregated to draw insights for an annual report so organisations can benchmark their EDI performance and gauge progress. It also gathers information on other EDI-relevant initiatives for an Inclusion & Diversity Directory, made freely available to organisations who wish to use it for social good.  

Currently, the project is run with a small cooperative of data organisations who each house data in a central library, but TTC aims to bring everything together and make it easier for  users to find resources they need. It aims to do this by taking on the stewardship of its signatories’ EDI data so that it can be analysed and understood. 

Lexie Papaspyrou, COO of Tech Talent Charter, says:

"We need to find more sophisticated ways of collecting and presenting the data we hold. Through the ODI’s ‘Data institutions mentorship programme’ we hope to explore the best options to enable us to analyse and disseminate data, anticipate and prepare for any governance and management problems, and grow relationships with other data institutions so we can learn how to make EDI data a usable asset for all."

Suffolk Data Trust

The Suffolk Data Trust is a project emerging from collaborators at Eastern New Energy which aims to use data and analytics to further the goal of reaching net zero carbon in Suffolk and beyond. Analysis of data is fundamental to achieving rapid decarbonisation, but problems arise when poor information leads to delays, inaction, wrong decisions, and a misallocation of investment. To help combat this, the team at Eastern New Energy will position the data trust as a new data infrastructure to unlock value, and aims to collect, organise and analyse existing data in order to understand the energy system, engage stakeholders, and enable the scale-up of biodiversity in an equitable and socially fair manner. 

The Suffolk Data Trust will establish a governance model for a data institution and map initial use cases for activities such as scaling up domestic retrofits and improving electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. The trust also wants to integrate its work with regional and local supply chains, giving councils and community groups the tools they need to develop their own net zero action plans. 

Alex Templeton, Director, UK Community Works CIC, says:

"By working with the ODI mentorship programme, we hope to design a data institution that is financially sustainable and uses the best technical and legal solutions for our needs. We also want to connect with the emerging data institution community in the UK and learn from both the ODI experts and others, and we are interested in connecting with collaborators and investors."

The pilot data institutions mentorship programme ran from April–December 2021. For more information on the programme and its participants, please read our Reflections on mentoring emerging data institutions blogpost and or watch our video with three of the programme's participants.