Professor Elena Simperl calls for applications to the Data Pitch accelerator and talks about the industry challenges which will bring startups and data providers together.

Today we are launching the 2017 call for the Data Pitch competition! The competition will select the best business ideas by startups and SMEs from all over the EU. These companies will receive funding of up to €100k equity free and a place on our brand new data accelerator that starts in February 2018.

Data Pitch is doing something very different and at the same time really important for the digital economy. It is the first ever data accelerator to bring together organisations from all over Europe that own data and would like to see it used to solve some of their most interesting business problems, with startups with fresh ideas for data products and services.

Over the past six months Data Pitch has worked with various stakeholders to design an open competition for startups and SMEs from all over the EU, built on twelve data challenges. Some of these challenges have been defined together with data sharing organisations in our network; others through consultations with the public and experts.

It was very important to us to have a great selection of data provider challenges in the 2017 call. They are the backbone of our data innovation approach because they showcase all the benefits, but also the difficulties of sharing data. Together with our team of data architects, legal experts, and open innovation specialists we have defined a framework to engage and collaborate with organisations from all over Europe that are interested in an open approach – to explore the commercial potential of their data, to find new business partners, or to gather new ideas for tackling tricky problems.

We’re delighted to announce our data providers from Germany, Italy, Portugal and the UK, which have trusted Data Pitch to support them in their innovation journey:

  • German rail company Deutsche Bahn
  • Portuguese retail business Sonae Retail
  • German data management provider Uniserv GmBH
  • Italian big data and machine learning company SpazioDati, as well as
  • UK’s imin, an open data scaleup working with physical activity data, a graduate of the ODINE programme.

I believe the challenges we have selected illustrate very well the diversity of the EU data economy:

  • Cross cutting business challenges such as how to extract value from supply chain data and customer records, which are relevant for any organisation and sector.
  • Specific opportunities created by the availability of more and new forms of data in healthcare, education, transport, tourism and manufacturing.
  • Public concerns around safety online and access to reliable information on the Web and in social media.

(Read more about our specific challenges here.)

We are looking for novel AI algorithms, apps, services, or wearables in these vital areas for the economy, society and the environment, that significantly advance the state of the art, solve pressing problems, and have the potential to turn into a successful, sustainable business.

The call features three tracks, with three types of challenges:

  1. Challenges defined by our trusted data providers, tailored around the problems they wish to solve through data-driven innovation, based on the data they share with us.
  2. A track with broader, sector challenges, which we have derived from consultations with experts and the general public.
  3. The “open innovation track”, for those ideas, which, for whatever reason, don’t quite fit into the other challenges!

This final track is very close to my heart because it is meant to look out for truly groundbreaking ideas – there is always an element of surprise, of the unexpected in open innovation and this track will enable that creativity. It is the home for all the exciting, wonderful things that we could not have thought of. Things that can change the world with data.

Over the next three months we will be receiving proposals from startups and SMEs from all over the EU (and associated countries) on how to address our twelve challenges. The deadline for this is 1st October and we’ll shortlist companies for interviews in London the week commencing 30th October.

I believe initiatives such as Data Pitch are one of most valuable ways to build a successful data economy in the EU. It allows us to gain first-hand experience on the innovation potential of data sharing and to study the positive effects that sharing previously closed data has on everyone.  We’re really looking forward to seeing the ideas from different countries that will once again show how the data economy in Europe is booming.