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The University of Southampton

New Europe-wide data accelerator launched

Published: 12 April 2017
Professor Elena Simperl
Professor Elena Simperl

A new European-funded project, led by the University of Southampton, is to bring together established businesses and start-ups to meet today’s challenges with data.

Data Pitch will provide up to 50 European start-ups and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with world-class business support including: up to €100k equity free funding, expert mentoring, investment opportunities, and access to data from established businesses and the public sector.

Overall the European Commission has committed €7.1 million into data driven innovation, and €4.8m to directly fund start-ups and SMEs.

The three-year project will be delivered by the University of Southampton, the Open Data Institute, Portuguese innovation company Beta-i and French data marketplace platform Dawex. It is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Data Pitch is also recruiting established businesses and other organisations to share their data via a new secure data innovation lab, based at the University of Southampton. These businesses will also help define the challenges along with the Data Pitch team and a wide range of experts from across industry sectors including agriculture and health. Start-ups will be given the chance to use this new data to address the challenges by developing innovative products and services.

Professor Elena Simperl, Professor of Computer Science at University of Southampton and Data Pitch project Director, said: “Data Pitch will create a European ecosystem for data-driven innovation. In the digital age, every organisation, public or private, big or small, generates and owns substantial data assets. Not all of them have the opportunity to use this data effectively. With Data Pitch we take an established open innovation model and apply it at European scale - we pair some of the most creative entrepreneurial minds in 28 countries and help them to solve data challenges that matter - for the economy, for the environment, for science, and for society as a whole.”

Start-ups and SMEs will be able to apply for a place on Data Pitch from 1 July 2017. Successful start-ups will be selected in October and November 2017, and the first cohort will join in December 2017. Each start-up will be on the programme for six months.

The ambition is to create an innovation ecosystem for Europe, where larger organisations work closely with agile start-ups to innovate and learn from each other, using data as an enabler to solve problems.

Data Pitch follows the lead of ODINE, whose 57 successful projects generated €16M in sales and investment since its launch in 2014, and created 268 jobs.

Jeni Tennison, CEO at the ODI said: “Start-ups have the skills, agility and energy to create novel and innovative solutions using data. Corporates need to understand the benefits of publishing and sharing data to take advantage of this innovation and realise the efficiencies, product opportunities and increased productivity that effective use of data can bring. Data Pitch will allow both corporate and start-ups to experiment with ways of encouraging open innovation using data in a safe environment.”

Data Pitch will begin by running online and offline ‘datathons’ in Spring 2017, around themes including smart cities, health and wellbeing, and food and agriculture. Ideas for the datathons will be crowd sourced and put forward by data providers, bringing together start-ups, data scientists and experts to work on a case for a set period of time during a hackathon.

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