Jeni Tennison

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has secured $2.5 million in funding from the Governance and Citizen Engagement Initiative at Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

This funding will help ODI deliver on its mission to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem, where people can make better decisions using data and manage any harmful impacts.

The ODI will achieve this by:

  1. creating sector-change programmes that bring together public, private and third sector organisations to address specific challenges in industry and society using data
  2. supporting companies and governments with data transformation, learning from experience to create practical tools and learning materials that help organisations adopt good practices for data collection, sharing and use
  3. building and supporting peer networks that enable people around the world working in this fast-moving area to learn from one another

Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute said:

“This funding will play a crucial role in enabling the ODI to deliver on our mission. As data moves from being scarce and difficult to process to being abundant and easy to use, there is an urgent need to build trust in how data is used, and harness its value for social and economic benefit. This grant supports our work developing ethics, equity and engagement around data. It helps us strengthen data infrastructure, making it as open as possible while preserving privacy; increasing data literacy and fostering open innovation.”

Martin Tisné, Investment Partner, Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network, said:

"The ODI has succeeded in putting open data firmly on the map, as a foundational part of the data infrastructure any government or business needs to succeed. Data that is as open as possible while preserving privacy is essential to the success of artificial intelligence and other areas of data innovation. The ODI is one of the rare organisations that work across open data, algorithmic accountability and privacy.”

The new funding will allow the ODI to build on and advance expertise in its current programmes of work, including:

Sector change

  • Banking: Setting up the Open Banking Working Group in September 2015 and developing a data standard for the industry. In January 2018, open banking became a reality in the UK with banks offering customers the ability to share their data with specific third parties to get better services. The ODI has also advised the Mexican and New Zealand governments on their Open Banking initiatives.
  • Sport and physical activity: Leading OpenActive in partnership with Sport England, an initiative to help reduce inactivity in England by making data about physical activities more openly available. The Openactive Accelerator is enabling startups to innovate with this data to build new products and services which inspire and help people to be more active.
  • Pharmaceutical: Convening pharmaceutical organisations to work together to openly publish data on the antibiotic drug resistance in order to guide clinicians on their effective use.

Supporting companies and governments

  • Working closely with specialist retail analyst Dunnhumby to explore how the sector can work together to turn GDPR from a compliance obligation into an opportunity to build services that meet shoppers needs. (Full report here.)
  • Supporting hundreds of startups globally through the ODI Startup incubator; as a partner on ODINE and Data Pitch incubating startups across Europe; advising on the set up of the ASEAN Data Startup Accelerator and Labora in Mexico City.
  • Training thousands in new data skills in over 20 countries, from Tanzania to Mexico, Malaysia to Ukraine.

Building and supporting peer networks

  • Expanding the global ODI Node network which currently comprises 28 not-for-profit companies.
  • Growing the ODI’s international membership network, which currently stands at over 2,000 companies and individuals.
  • Developing the Open Data Leaders Network which enables peer-to-peer learning for open data practitioners around the world.

This is the third round of funding the ODI has secured from the Governance and Citizen Engagement Initiative at Omidyar Network. It received $750,000 shortly after it launched in 2013 and a further commitment of $4.1 million in 2015. Since then it has worked with its global network of ODI Nodes, ODI Members and ODI Startups, to reach a global audience of over 3 million and unlock over £70 million investment for the ecosystem.

Omidyar Network’s funding is the ODI’s second recent multi-million pound investment. In October 2017 the ODI announced £6 million funding from Innovate UK to deliver a three-year innovation programme.