Image credit: Caley Dewhurt/ODI

R&D: Sustainable data access 

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This research and development project aims to support data institutions – and other data access initiatives – in becoming sustainable 

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Sustainable data access: why is it important?

  • Project: April 2020 – March 2021

Access to data is a crucial enabler for innovation. There are various types of data access initiatives which help to support access to data, as demonstrated by ODI’s R&D work on the Data Access Map. These include open data initiatives, data portability initiatives and data sharing initiatives. In each case, there are organisations that support the initiatives and carry out activities including scoping, designing, operating, evaluating, and sometimes closing down said initiative. When done well, in ways that are trustworthy and promote the use of data, the activities they engage in can be costly and require funding. As such data institutions and organisations looking to set up and run a data access initiative will need a business model that supports the activities necessary to sustain the institution or initiative.

Our approach

In this project we’ll be carrying out research to explore the landscape and impacts of different business models in current data institutions and data access initiatives. We will also be running pilots, engaging with a number of data institutions and data access initiatives in a range of contexts to understand and develop their business models. In addition we will be developing tools and guidance for supporting the planning and delivery for the different phases of a data access initiative or a data institution’s life cycle, as informed by the pilot and research workstreams.


This work is part of the fourth year of our research and development programme, funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The project builds on the exploratory research into designing sustainable data institutions that was undertaken in the first quarter of 2020.

Get involved

Want to take part in our research or discuss our work? Get in touch.

This work is part of an innovation programme, running to March 2021 with funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Through our R&D programme, we aim to shape future services and promote productivity and growth with cutting edge expertise.