New opportunities and funding for start-ups and SMEs with Data Pitch

A competition to find the best data-led business ideas from all over the EU is encouraging collaboration between big businesses and innovative start-ups and SMEs.

Over the last decade there has been a huge increase in the availability of data, and the realisation that governments and businesses can use it to transform their organisations and create better goods and services.

The UK government launched in 2010 to make non-personal information available as open data, with almost 40,000 data sets now accessible. Big businesses have also joined the trend, increasing transparency and boosting economic growth by enabling start-ups and SMEs to use their data to create innovative new products.

These developments have influenced the way in which the public sector and major corporations interact with small companies, paving the way for real open innovation and providing start-ups with immense opportunities.

It is often these small companies that originate the pioneering ideas to generate new and different revenue streams - but they often need help developing their concepts. The Open Data Institute (ODI) is committed to supporting them in their journey.

The ODI was set up in 2012 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt to address global challenges using data by helping organisations around the world deliver open innovation. Since its inception, it has run many successful incubator and accelerator programmes such as the ODI Startup Accelerator and ODINE, and has supported many tech-oriented start-ups to innovate with data, creating hundreds of jobs.

We are very excited about our latest programme, Data Pitch, which is the first ever accelerator to bring together organisations from all over Europe that own data and are willing to share it with start-ups and work with us to develop a number of challenges across various sectors.

Data Pitch is funded by the EU Horizon 2020  programme and delivered by the Open Data Institute, The University of Southampton, Portuguese Innovation company Beta-I and French data marketplace platform Dawex.

An open competition in two calls, Data Pitch sets challenges across a range of sectors and invites start-ups and SMEs to put forward proposals. The best of these are then invited to join an accelerator programme for six months, which offers funding and a wide range of services, including:

  • Investment up to €100,000, equity free
  • Six-month business accelerator with the help of the Open Data Institute (ODI) and Beta-i
  • Introduction to business partners
  • Peer-networking and support
  • Introduction to investors
  • Access to technology and datasets, as well as training and advice by Data Pitch experts

The first call closed in October and attracted 142 high-quality proposals from all over Europe, and Data Pitch is currently working with the successful applicants to prepare them to take part in the six-month programmes beginning in February 2018.

The initial challenges covered a wide range of sectors including healthcare, transport, retail, lifelong learning and sports and recreation, with data provided by high-profile international companies including German rail company, Deutsche Bahn, Portuguese retail business, Sonae, German data management provider, Uniserv GmBH and Italian big data and machine learning company, SpazioDati.

The second call will open in July 2018, with a new set of challenges, each of which can be addressed with the use of one or more shared datasets. Data Pitch will again be working with high profile data providers from across Europe. Alongside Data Pitch’s team of data architects, open innovation experts and mentors, these organisations will then help the winning start-ups to explore the commercial potential of their data and find new, high-impact and innovative solutions for specific problems.

Data Pitch is creating something new and disruptive, which will hopefully lead to a more widespread open approach between large corporations and start-ups. It is a fantastic opportunity for innovative small companies to develop their ideas with the benefit of mentoring and support, and to gain unprecedented access to datasets from participating providers.

If you are interested in applying*, the next round of applications opens next summer. Please visit the Data Pitch website for more information and FAQs. In 2018 we will be hosting webinars and attending events to promote Data Pitch, so do sign up to the newsletter to keep in touch and to receive updates about the challenge, or contact us directly with your questions.

The successful start-up companies from the first open call will be announced in February 2018.

Written by Heidi Lindvall, Startup Programme Manager, Open Data Institute

* Eligible applicants must be SMEs or start-ups based in the European Union or Horizon 2020 associated countries, and be working as an individual company rather than a consortium.