EU gets behind open data with €14.4m for new startups, research & training

The funding is being announced today at the ODI Summit in London.

  • €7.8m Europe-wide incubator programme based on the ODI’s startup programme
  • €3.7m Europe-wide web data research network
  • €2.9m new academy to train the next generation of data scientists

This is the largest direct investment in open data startups in the world, to date.

Announcing the new investments, Gavin Starks, CEO at the ODI said: “This is a decisive investment by the EU to create open data skills, build capabilities, and provide fuel for open data startups across Europe. It combines three key drivers for open adoption: financing startups, deepening our research and evidence, and training the next generation of data scientists, to exploit emerging open data ecosystems.”

The EU has committed €7.8 million to realise a 30-month incubator programme for open data entrepreneurs across Europe, via its Horizon 2020 funding programme. Seven partners (see below), led by the University of Southampton, bid for the funding to develop an Open Data Incubator for Europe (ODInE). ODInE will be modelled on the ODI’s highly successful Startup Programme, which has so far supported 18 companies, five of which have now graduated from the scheme. Analysis in June found that companies on the ODI’s startup programme had secured over £2.5m in funding and investment since joining.

The ODI will deliver the incubator programme, recruiting new startups every two months, approximately 50 startups in total. The ODI will receive €500k to administer the project and €5.5 million will be allocated to successful applicants of the programme to develop their concepts, around €50k-€100k per company. In addition, each will receive mentoring, technology, infrastructure and networking support. ODInE will launch in Spring 2015.

The successful seven-part consortium to win the funding comprises:

  • University of Southampton – Consortium and project lead
  • The Open Data Institute – Delivery of ODInE
  • Telefonica – Infrastructure coordinator
  • The Guardian – Online presence for project and promotion of the open call
  • Open Future, Wayra – Outreach to potential startups
  • Fraunhofer – Data Supply – Demand Coordinator
  • Open Knowledge Foundation (Germany) – Community engagement

Elena Simperl, Associate Professor, University of Southampton, said: “Open data has the potential to radically change the way organizations value data. An incubation program like ODInE’s will offer small and medium innovators in this space mentoring, technology, and financial support, helping to build a business network around open data across Europe.”

Europe-wide web data research network
The ODI, in conjunction with five other partners, has successfully secured funding of €3.7m to create a network of 15 early-stage researchers across Europe, each of whom will focus on a different aspect of the question “how can we answer complex questions with web data?”.

The funding will be issued over four years and will enable each partner to create two to three PhD positions. The ODI will receive €500k from the total and will host two students who will look at how developers, and open data users, find the right datasets to solve their data needs. They will address questions such as: ‘What happens when users combine datasets which are licensed in different ways?’.