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ODI and Nesta claim open data success



Analysis by PwC shows five to tenfold return on investment for seven projects in Challenge Series

A series of open data projects have provided evidence of the potential value to the UK economy, according to a report published today by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and the national innovation charity Nesta.

An evaluation of their Open Data Challenge Series by PwC shows the seven projects are promising a return of £5-10 for every £1 invested over three years. They are also on course to create between 75 and 141 jobs and have the potential to produce wider social and environmental benefits.

The Challenge Series was launched in April 2013 with £1.2 million of backing from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. It has involved series of projects, running up to June 2015, to support teams in developing new products or services using open data.

Seven themes

They were based on seven themes: crime and justice, education, energy and environment, housing, food, heritage and culture, and jobs. Each challenge had three finalists winning £5,000, and one final winner securing up to £50,000 along with a tailored support package to develop their business.

Projects included Movemaker, smartphone app to help people living in social housing swap properties, and Food Trade Menu, to help restaurants and caterers comply with new regulations on the transparency of allergens in food.

Programme manager Briony Phillips told UKAuthority that the project has contributed to the case that releasing government data for re-use can provide social benefits and a boost to the economy. This has been supported by a data science assessment of the relevance of the data for the specific purposes, along with its openness and usability.

“We’ve been able to pull together the best bits of a hack, that creates ideas, with incubator and accelerator elements, get people together and support those with the greatest chance of raising some external funding,” Phillips said.

She added: “All of the winners are out there to a varying extent. Some have launched products and a couple are due to so in the autumn.

Replicable model

Helen Goulden, executive director of Nesta's Innovation Lab, said: "The Open Data Challenge Series has developed a replicable model that we hope will drive real, quantifiable, social and economic value from exploiting open data. We've applied the process to fields as diverse as employment, food, education and crime with some great results and my sense is that we have only just scratched the surface of what might be possible."

She was supported by the government’s digital champion Martha Lane Fox, who said the report shows the commercial potential in open data, and that it needs buy-in from government and businesses.

Phillips said the ODI and Nesta are also working together on a programme to encourage start-ups using open data for the social good with in-kind support rather than funding.



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