Please note that the Data Pitch programme ended on 31 December 2019. 

What is Data Pitch?

Data Pitch is a EU-funded open innovation programme bringing together corporate and public-sector organisations that have data with startups and SMEs that work with data. 

It is centred around a competition with several tracks, which describe challenges set by the data-provisioning organisations, and an accelerator programme (6 months) to help startups and SMEs develop solutions to meet these challenges.

The startups and SMEs will put forward proposals for creating high impact, innovative products and services in response to the challenges defined by Data Pitch.

Successful applicants will receive an important financial and advisory boost to their idea, with support to develop a concept into a robust and sustainable data business.

Which organisations are partners of Data Pitch?

Data Pitch is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and is being delivered by the University of SouthamptonOpen Data InstituteBeta-i and Dawex.

Why is data so important for business growth?

Sometimes, what data is worth is most evident to the ones who control it, and perhaps their competitors and collaborators. In most cases, however, organisations are yet to unleash the real potential of their data. What is clear, however, is what it takes to do so: enabling reuse and integration with other data assets to build so-called Big Data Value chains, in which open, shared, and closed data are used in combination. To realise these data chains organisations need to re-think access to data and take an open approach to innovation – in particular, by working together with startups and entrepreneurs – to find the most promising data-driven business models, products, and services that benefit their business.

Why will be the impact of Data Pitch?

Similar projects run by Data Pitch partners have delivered high impact results.

Open Data Incubator for Europe (ODINE)

A 6 month incubator for open data entrepreneurs across Europe, ODINE supports the next generation of digital businesses to fast-track the development of their products.

  • 1176 SME and startup applications
  • 57 successful projects
  • 18 countries
  • 268 jobs created
  • 22.5m value unlocked

Open Data Challenge Series

A series of 7 challenges over tracks including food, energy and education to generate innovative and sustainable solutions to social challenges.

  • 84 team applications
  • 21 shortlisted solutions
  • 75 -141 jobs predicted
  • £5.3  – £10.8 gross value added for each £1 invested in the challenge

Is Data Pitch focused on a particular domain or sector?

Data Pitch can engage with any industry sector that you choose.  For example, the first Data Pitch call features sectors as diverse as transport, healthcare, education, tourism, sports, and retail.

How much funding is available in total?

The available funding adds up to €4.89 million for two calls, one in 2017, one in 2018.

Startups and SMEs


What does the competition call work?

The Data Pitch competition consists of two calls. The first call was open in summer 2017. The second call opens at 12 noon CEST 2nd July 2018 and closes at 12 noon CEST on 2nd October 2018

Each call consists of a series of tracks that refer to challenges which can be addressed by applicants.

Each challenge can be addressed via the use of one or more datasets, open, shared or closed. Each challenge is accompanied by examples of expected outcomes and impacts. Applications must target one challenge only, and explain how it will address it.

Winners receive support and up to €100k equity free funding in the Data Pitch accelerator.

What does the competition call work?

We expect to fund around 50 companies in total, with a total funding of €4.89 million. For the second cohort we expect around 30-35 companies. However, this will depend on the quality of the applications.

How many winners will be selected per challenge?

We have no pre-defined targets. We welcome applications for all tracks and challenges and we will select companies purely based on the quality of what they propose. This means that in some challenges we might have one or several winners, while in others we might decide to have none.

Do you have a target acceptance rate?

We have no pre-defined targets. We welcome applications for all tracks and challenges and we will select companies purely based on the quality of what they propose. This means that in some challenges we might have one or several winners, while in others we might decide to have none.

Do you have a target acceptance rate?

We have no pre-defined targets. We welcome applications for all tracks and challenges and we will select companies purely based on the quality of what they propose. This means that in some challenges we might have one or several winners, while in others we might decide to have none.


Can I apply?

Yes, if your company and your idea comply with these criteria as follows:

  • The applicant must be an SME.
  • The applicant must be legally established and working in the EU-28 countries or in the Horizon 2020 associated countries.
  • The applicant must be registered with the European Commission as an SME at the time of submission.
  • The applicant must be working as an individual company – no consortia will be permitted.
  • The applicant must target one track and challenge, and propose a solution to that challenge, following the instructions laid out in the challenge text.
  • The applicant must make use of datasets, either those provided for challenges or in combination with other datasets that the applicant has permission to use.
  • The application must be complete and fulfill all criteria explained in the Guide for Applicants

Please consult the guide for applicants for specific details on each of these points.

How do I know if I am eligible SME?

Applicants must register as an SME with the European Commission prior to applying to Data Pitch.

Please complete this registration prior to submitting your Data Pitch application – in the application you will be asked for a “PIC”, this is an identifier you will abe allocated by the European Commission when you register with them. The registration process should be straightforward; however, please understand that your registering with the European Commission is not under the control of Data Pitch and we cannot help with any queries you might have about the process.

There is a user guide for the self assessment tool and you can also find the latest definition of SME in this document. If you have troubles locating the SME self assessment tool, please read the instructions on pages 16 to 18 of the user guide).

Should I apply?

The overall goal of Data Pitch is to accelerate the European data ecosystem, creating and supporting new businesses by unlocking the commercial potential of high-value datasets.

As such Data Pitch is looking to accelerate startups and SMEs whose proposed solutions (product and/or service) are characterised by the following:

  • a potential for sustainability beyond Data Pitch funding and acceleration
  • a focus that is demonstrably European-wide
  • innovative use of data
  • a potential to scale

Are there common reasons why applications were rejected in the 2018 call?

Yes. Following the interview process for the 2018, we grouped common reasons why applications were rejected. A longer blog post about it can be found here. They were as follows:


  1. Technical capacity. While no details of IP are requested, the nature of the challenges demand technical solutions to a large extent. An ability to go into technical details with the panel and clearly describe technologies used is essential.


  2. An open innovation approach. This means in practice that a good Data Pitch application will do two things. a) solve a problem for the owner of the data; and simultaneously b) create a new, sustainable and innovative product or service for the market. We are not looking for one-off projects or projects that do not answer one of the challenges.


  3. Pan-European. Data Pitch is a European funded project looking for solutions to data challenges that can be applied across Europe, in terms of relevance and scalability.


  4. Survival of the fittest. Where similar solutions were proposed in applications, funding was given to the company that presented the strongest team, or customer proposition.

Can individuals apply to Data Pitch?

Yes, but you will need to be registered with the European Commission. The process to do so is explained in the guide for applicants.

I have trouble registering as an SME. Can Data Pitch help?

Thousands of SMEs register with the European Commission every year. While understanding the ecosystem of EU funding might take some time, it is a process you will need to go through as recipient of Data Pitch funding. We have no control whatsoever on this process and can offer only very limited advice, based on our experience in working with SMEs in the past. However, we cannot resolve any specific problem or contact the European Commission on your behalf.


Can I apply to more than one challenge?

Yes, but with different applications. Each application will be judged on its relevance to the challenge you have chosen. If shortlisted for more than one challenge, we will however invite you to the interview only for one of them. This also means you can only be successful with one challenge only.

Is there a maximum number of applications I can submit to the call?

In principle, no, but keep in mind that this is going to be extremely competitive and you stand a chance only if you put together a very strong, relevant application for each of the challenges you pick.

My idea does not fit into any challenge. Can I still apply?

Our data provider and sector challenges offer a selection of high impact areas, which are important to our partners and the European data economy. However, we are aware that innovation happens in many ways in various other areas. For this reason, we have created a third track, with one broad challenge. However, this challenge is not for incremental ideas. It is for game changers, for groundbreaking solutions that we would not want to miss. Think carefully before you apply to this challenge – we will consider only truly exceptional proposals.

 My idea fits into more than one challenge. What should I do?

You have to choose one challenge. Pick the one where you believe your idea has the best potential and can achieve the highest impact, for yourself, for your customers etc.

I am a technology company and can apply my products on any type of data. What challenge do I pick?

First and foremost, Data Pitch is about creating value through open innovation and data sharing. While technology is important, the data you apply it to is equally important. You will need to convince us that you are building something of impact by providing a data-driven solution to a Data Pitch challenge.

If you apply to a data provider challenge, your product will have to solve the business problem of that organisation and be suitable to handle their data.

If you apply to one of the other challenges, you will have to bring in shared data resources from your business network, relevant for the challenge you choose.  More details about the data requirements in Data Pitch applications can be found in the data section.


Does Data Pitch offer a pre-proposal check?

Data Pitch does not assess any applications prior to their submission. We are happy to answer general questions about the scope and format of the Data Pitch call via email, Twitter, or at one of our online webinars, but we cannot make any statement about the feasibility or value of a proposal. The acceptance of a project will be at the discretion of the review panel.

I am interested in a data provider challenge. Will I be able to view the dataset before submitting the application?

Basic information about the datasets is available in our catalog. You can find links to it on the Web page of the challenge you have chosen. The catalog refers to corporate datasets that have commercial value for the data provider and contains as much information as it can be disclosed without signing a legal agreement.

In some cases we have secured samples from the corporates defining the challenge. We will also organise webinars to answer questions about the datasets.

Can I submit an application if I’m already receiving funds from another European accelerator program or European project?

Yes. However, the work you plan to carry out as part of your Data Pitch project cannot receive double funding. Synergies with other sources of funding, including other Horizon 2020 projects, are encouraged as long as the grants are used for complementary not overlapping purposes.

Can I submit documents that are not in English?

Unfortunately not. We need to be able to assess your application and we cannot manage translations from other languages. Every document that you will submit must be in English.


What data can I use?

Our ultimate aim is encourage the flow of data between organisations and explore the commercial opportunities created by unlocking and sharing data in an innovation ecosystem. In line with this mission, we are going to consider only applications that show us a convincing business case built around shared data. This is not data you own or generate yourself. That is data that is not open, that is provided by someone else, to which you have access, for example via a license or any other type of agreement. This applies to all challenges.

In addition, if you go for a data-provider challenge, we have specified some of the shared datasets to use. Those challenges are tailored to the business needs of the data provider and your application  must use the data they are willing to share with us.

Watch this video to find out more about shared data.

Our principal dataset is generated by our own users, can we still apply?

Unfortunately not. The main source of data that you use needs to be generated by a third party organisation as we want to see the data sharing aspect in your application. You are, however, welcome to use user generated data in your solution providing this is not your main dataset and your principal dataset is shared by a third party.

Data Pitch has a specific mandate from the European Union: we are not looking to fund any amazing tech; we are primarily looking to convince organisations to explore the benefits of sharing their data in a trusted environment,

The way we want to convince these organisations to let their data flow more freely is by bringing them together with startups and SMEs that can demonstrate, through their ideas, how that data could be exploited.

So, in a way, the ultimate aim of Data Pitch is not primarily to run an accelerator. It is to support the European Union in implementing their free flow of data vision (see also https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/building-european-data-economy). The accelerator is one of the many instruments the European Union has funded to achieve this aim.

I have my own data that I have collected from users. Can I use this in addition to other data?

Yes, as long as you are also using data from a third party, such as from one of our data providers or another source of your choice, in the challenge. Please remember, all proposed reusage of personal data is subject to having the appropriate consents from data subjects and/or agreement to anonymise/pseudonymise such data, as well as confirmation of your understanding that you may be subject to data protection rules arising under the new EU GDPR. For more help, you can review our Legal and Privacy Toolkit here. 

I have collected data from my customers. Can I use this to apply to Data Pitch?

Yes, you can use data that belongs to your customers (i.e. that has been created and will be provided directly to you by them) if you have the appropriate consent from them to use it (e.g. a license to use any intellectual property rights arising in relation to such data) and can provide written evidence of this. For more help, you can review our Legal and Privacy Toolkit here.

I am interested in a data provider challenge. When will the data be made available?

If you are selected into the programme, you will be granted access to the data close to the start of the accelerator. Your application will be based only on the information we provide in the data catalog (basic metadata information about attributes, size, scope, upgrade frequency etc.) and not on the full dataset. The full dataset can only be disclosed after a legal agreement was signed.

Note also, that upon joining Data Pitch, you will not have access to all data shared by all data providers across all challenges. You will only have access to the data from the challenge you address.

I am interested in a data provider challenge and need more details about the datasets? What do I do?

Start with the data catalog. If you cannot find the information you are looking for there, please reach out to us at call@datapitch.eu. Please note that Data Pitch is acting as an intermediary between you and the organisation providing the data. We do not hold copies of the data and cannot give you access to it prior to the submission. However, if you have specific questions, we will liaise with the data provider to try to answer them.

I am interested in a data provider challenge. Will there be restrictions on the usage of this data?

You will be allowed to combine this data with open and your own data, provided you respect the terms of use of the challenge datasets, as long as any legal and ethical aspects that might arise from this combination.

You will be expected to tell us in your application what datasets you plan to use in addition to the challenge dataset, whether you have identified such legal or ethical issues, and how you plan to solve them?

Will I be able to share the challenge data with external partners or affiliates?

No. The data is strictly for the use of the project team and cannot be shared with anyone else. The contract you will sign with Data Pitch offers details on the terms of use of the data.

Can I use multiple datasets?

Yes, but you don’t have to. You must use at least one dataset to be considered. You will use as many of the datasets as needed to build a strong business case, with high impact. You can also decide to add open data or your own data to the mix, but mind the data terms of use, and other legal and ethical implications of combining datasets.

I am interested in a sector challenge or in the open innovation challenge. Can I use open data?

Yes, but not exclusively. If your application uses only open or your own data, it will not be considered.

I am interested in the open innovation challenge. Isn’t this about open data?

No. Open innovation is about organisations reaching out to external partners to buy or license processes, inventions, and, in our case, data. Opening up data can help organisations with their open innovation agenda, because everyone can then use the data to create value, for the publishers, and for others. However, open innovation can also be based on data that will never be published in the public domain, but is shared with trusted partners.

I am interested in a sector challenge/the open innovation challenge. What sort of data do I need?

Data Pitch is all about open innovation, in particular about data-driven innovation. In data-driven innovation, an organisation shares some of their data with partners to create value. This is the scenario we target with the sector challenges and with the open innovation challenge. In this scenario, you are not the data owner or provider, sharing data with others. You are doing something useful, or plan to do something useful with someone else’s data. Crucially, you already have access to that data when you submit the application.

While there are no restrictions on the choice of data providers, we will give precedence to applications that foster the European ecosystem. This means, for example, that applications should address a problem relevant for the European economy, using data shared by an organisation whose main HQ is in the EU.

I am interested in a sector challenge/the open innovation challenge. Do I need to ask my data provider for approval to apply to Data Pitch?

You need to make sure you are allowed to use their data in Data Pitch.

I am interested in a sector challenge/the open innovation challenge. Will my data provider join Data Pitch?

No. This relationship is managed entirely by you.

I am interested in a sector challenge/the open innovation challenge. My data provider owns shares in my company, is this a problem?

This is not a problem in itself. However, we will fund only applications that help you, the startup or SME build a sustainable business.

What is a data value chain?

Data value chains describe the series of activities needed to generate value and useful insights from data.

Data Pitch is about encouraging the flow of data in business and innovation ecosystems. We want to see applications based on data value chains that involve data created and shared by one organisation being used by others in their ecosystem. Here’s a recent article that offers an example of data value chains in IoT.


What is the process of evaluation?

Applications will be reviewed in three steps:

  1. a review, based on predefined criteria (see also Annex 6 of the Guide to Applicants). The result of the review will be a list of companies to be invited to interview in early November.
  2. a remote interview (approx. 30 minutes) with an expert panel.
  3. based on the decision of the expert panel, a second, face to face interview might be required and will take place in London in late November.

More details are available in the guide for applicants.

Will I know the name of the interviewers?

The panel will be announced several days before the interview. It is advised that you spend some time researching your interviewer’s’ background and experience so that you can cater your interview to them.

Do you provide travel expenses for interview?

No. Applicants asked to attend a face to face interview following the first round of remote interviews will be required to cover their own travel costs.

What if I am unable to attend my interview?

If you are unable to attend your set interview date and time, we will be forced to withdraw your application. We cannot be flexible with the time or dates of the interview so please ensure that you, or a representative of your organisation, are available for your set time and date.

Will we receive feedback on applications?

Due to the high number of applicants, we will only be able to provide feedback in selected cases, for example for those applications that were shortlisted for the interview.

Will we receive feedback on applications?

Yes, if you were unsuccessful in 2017, you can apply again. However the challenges are different, and you will need to write a different application. If you were successful in 2017 and are part of the Data Pitch Accelerator, you are not permitted to apply in 2018.

Costs, payments, and legal

What is the maximum funding per project?

Data Pitch funds up to €100,000 per project.

What are the eligible costs for the project?

A cost is eligible for the project if it complies with each of the following rules:

  • incurred by your company in connection with your project
  • incurred by your company during the project
  • identifiable and verifiable in your accounts
  • compliant with national law
  • reasonable, justified, in accordance with sound financial management (economy & efficiency)
  • indicated in the budget you submit with your application

The budget may include indirect costs (also known as overhead) for items such as rent, admin staff, printing and photocopying, heating, electricity etc., calculated as a flat rate of 25% of the total direct cost.

How are the payments scheduled?

Projects officially start with the contract’s signature and have three milestones at month 2, 4 and 6. The sixth month marks the end of the project. Payments are scheduled as follows:

  • 30% at contract’s signature
  • All declared and accepted costs after successful completion of the milestone agreed for the 4th month
  • All declared accepted costs after the completion of the milestone agreed for the 6 month (i.e. project ends successfully)

Does Data Pitch take any equity or owns the intellectual property as a return to fund my project?

No. Data Pitch will not take any equity of the SME or the related project. All intellectual property produced in the project will belong to the applicants and SMEs.

Is sub-contracting allowed?

Yes you can. However, It is advisable for startups to ensure key and business centric activities are kept in-house, in order to retain Intellectual Property (IP) rights. Moreover, startups will only be able to use subcontractors located within a EU28 or H2020 associated country.

Who verifies the completion of milestones?

All milestone are signed off as complete by one or more mentors, Data Pitch, and potentially further advisors that support the startup.


Will you share any information about a rejected proposal? 

We do not publish or share information about rejected proposals. Some aggregate Information regarding rejected proposals including number of submissions, acceptance rates, country of origin, sectors, etc will be published, but not the names of the companies.

Details about how we use the application data are in the basic information form on F6S.

Will you share any information about an accepted proposal?

We will not publish or share the proposal itself, but publish the names of the companies. Details about how we use the application data are in the basic information form in F6S.

Will you share any information about an accepted proposal?

We will not publish or share the proposal itself, but publish the names of the companies. Details about how we use the application data are in the basic information form in F6S.

Data providers

How do I work with Data Pitch as a data provider?

Working together with Data Pitch is straightforward:

  1. Define challenge and select datasets First, we help you define a challenge that you would like explored with your data, or select a dataset that you believe may have substantial value for you.
  2. Data sharing agreement We agree on which datasets will be shared with Data Pitch and how. Our legal team can offer guidance on best practices around data protection and the ethics of data sharing, while our technical team will ensure you are comfortable with the the hosting options.  We sign a contract to formalise our partnership.
  3. Competition Data Pitch organises a Europe-wide competition (‘the call’), reaching out to hundreds of thousands of startups and SMEs, looking for the best ideas on how to solve the challenge you’ve identified.
  4. Shortlisting and interviews Together with you, we shortlist the best ideas and interview the candidates.
  5. Define work plan The selected startups and SMEs join the Data Pitch incubator. Based on your aims, we help them to define tangible outcomes and KPIs for six month projects.
  6. Accelerator Each idea is funded by Data Pitch with up to €100k. Data Pitch also offers successful applicants bespoke technical, business, legal, and marketing support as part of a European accelerator. You receive regular reports to ensure what they produce is truly useful for your organisation.
  7. New opportunities After six months, the companies graduate the incubation programme. You have the opportunity to continue to collaborate with those companies which have shown greatest promise.

Can I select the startup(s) my company works with?

As a data provider, you are invited to join our Data Innovators Board, and participate in the selection of the companies that will tackle the challenges you have put forward.

    How does data sharing work?

    To create solutions to the challenges you’ve identified, startups and SMEs will need to have access to your data. You can share it with Data Pitch in a way that works for you – legally, technically and organisationally – from your choice of API to high-security hosting facilities with physical authentication. Which option is used will depend on a number of factors such as technical and regulatory constraints and your own preferences.

    Data Pitch will assist with discussions and reviewing alternatives, but the final decision is for you, the data owner, to make. The datasets you decide to share will be accessible only to those startups and SMEs that have been accepted into the incubator. You will be part of the panel selecting and interviewing them.

    There are no restrictions to the datasets you decide to put forward. They can be in any accessible format, from any domain, big or small, open or not yet disclosed to third parties. We offer a range of data sharing options:

    • You host the data. You may wish to use your own infrastructure. This is particularly relevant where it is required that the data has no delegation to third parties or where the data might include personal data.  You may also wish to provide an API to the data.Data is hosted in a commercial cloud You may decide to offer a copy of the data for experimentation purposes using services such as AWS or Azure. Data Pitch is happy to assist in any way you need to make this happen.
    • We host the data for you DataPitch can host your data for you. This option provides multiple levels of security depending on what is required:
      • Connection to the public internet through Janet, the UK university network
      • Defining a secure zone Data Pitch via a standard proxy – an academic infrastructure hosting all the academic services and laboratories
      • As above, but with a further proxy to create an isolated and secure zone for Data Pitch. The infrastructure hosts a limited number of research project servers and it is managed independently
      • Hosting on a separate, BIL3 and ISO27001-compliant network.  To access this network physical authentication is required.
    • Data is hosted by the startup/SME. In some cases, it maybe be more appropriate for the dataset to be stored by the company working with it, especially if they already have strong analytics infrastructure. You, Data Pitch and the applicant decide the terms and conditions for data hosting before the company is admitted to the accelerator.

    You retain the rights on and control over your data, which will only be used for the purposes of the experiments accepted for funding. After the incubation, you have the choice to:

    • remove the data from the platform (effectively closing it back)
    • keep it published as shared data (the Data Pitch infrastructure will be available at least two years after the end of the project for this particular purpose)
    • release (parts of) the data in the public domain

    Data Pitch has comprehensive expertise in any aspect of data hosting, management, analytics, and governance. To understand your needs we will ask you to complete a short technical questionnaire so that we can suggest the most appropriate options for you.

      What paperwork do we need to sign?

      Your agreement to join the Data Pitch innovation programme will be with the Data Pitch consortium, represented by its coordinator, the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. The startup will similarly sign an agreement with Data Pitch, governing what they have to deliver and when, their KPIs, and what they are allowed to do with your data. In addition, you can also define a third non-disclosure agreement for the startup to sign to ensure any related commercial knowledge is held in confidence.

      We take numerous steps to ensure appropriate legal compliance and protect your rights. We will ask you to complete a short questionnaire that we will review to enable us to put in place the right security, constrictions and licensing to keep your data safe but usable.

          Your question not answered here?

          If your question has not been answered by the FAQ section above, please do not hesitate to contact Data Pitch at call@datapitch.eu for information about how to apply to Data Pitch as a startup or SME or at info@datapitch.eu for other queries.