UK Government invests £6M in data innovation

Innovate UK is providing £6 million over three years to the Open Data Institute (ODI), to advance knowledge and expertise in how data can shape the next generation of public and private services, and create economic growth. Now in its sixth year, the ODI works to build a strong, fair and sustainable data ecosystem by helping businesses and governments around the world get data to people who need it.

Over three years, the work announced today will enable the UK to build on its established strengths in data and data analytics, break new ground in creating value from data across industry, and ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of data innovation globally.

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It will include a number of projects chosen by the ODI to progress strategically important areas: building data infrastructure, improving data literacy, stimulating data innovation and progressing the ethical use of data. In the first year of the programme, work will focus on creating economic, and social benefits from data, answering a range of key innovation questions and meeting business needs, including:

How can businesses make better technological and business model decisions by capitalising on emerging trends such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and measures that provide greater control over personal data?

How are data and technology innovation communities spread across the UK, and what are their links with our top academic and business institutions? What does this tell us about where Government should invest, and where businesses should establish themselves?

How can data be used to improve the peer-to-peer accommodation market for organisations like AirBnB or LoveHomeSwap, to support businesses and communities, and improve the experience of consumers and users?

>See also: UK ranks 5th for data innovation out of EU member states

What are the most effective data-enabled public services? What lessons can they offer to other public sector workers developing services? And what new models can we uncover through experimentation?

How can government, businesses and communities work together to maintain data? How can they collaborate to ensure that data from multiple sources can be understood and combined easily?

Dr Jeni Tennison, CEO at the ODI, said: “Data is transforming the decisions we make as individuals, organisations and societies, from how we navigate from A to B, to finding an appropriate loan, to knowing where to invest to promote innovation. These new projects will advance our understanding of the opportunities data can bring as well as some of the pitfalls to avoid.”

“Since the ODI launched five years ago we, with our global network, have unlocked over £80million of value, by supporting new businesses and services, to leading major data-focused initiatives. For example, the ODI is currently working in partnership with Sport England to deliver OpenActive, a community-led initiative of sport and physical activity organisations and individuals, using open data to get people more active.”

“The work we are announcing today will find the best examples of things working well, so we can share and learn from them. We will take these learnings and help businesses and governments to use them and lead by example.”

>See also: The value of data driving business innovation and acceleration

The new programme of work will target specific groups and professionals within the public sector, businesses, and the data community. The reports, research and tools produced will become practical assets that can be used and added to by others, to continue to explore how data can and should work in our societies and economies.

The funding has been awarded through Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, in a three-year programme, running from June 2017 to March 2020 with a funding profile of £2m each year.

Ruth McKernan, chief executive at Innovate UK said: “There is huge potential value to the economy and society from maximising the opportunities that expansion in the availability of data presents, but also challenges in ensuring its proper handling. This investment to the Open Data Institute will see the further development of this important agenda to help more UK businesses derive value from the advancements in data and data analytics.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...