Government-led Smart Data Discovery Challenge launched to stoke innovation

The UK government has issued a call for “smart data” ideas to help consumers and small business, modelled on open banking.

A Smart Data Discovery Challenge has been launched by the Department for Business and Trade, Challenge Works, the Open Data Institute (ODI) and Smart Data Foundry. It calls on individuals, innovators, entrepreneurs, academia and civil society to offer cross-sector ideas that could benefit individuals and small businesses with their use of smart data.

Smart data is said to enable individual consumers and small businesses to access and share their data securely with authorised third parties that can offer services to them. An example of smart data is open banking, which shares certain financial information such as balance and transaction history with other financial providers or services. The idea is to make it easier for other organisations to use data to personalise products or make suggestions.

Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, said: “Smart data has the potential to help create solutions to real-life issues that consumers face on a daily basis, as well as supporting small firms across the country and helping to grow the economy.

“Smart data is already helping consumers via open banking and I am excited to see what other game-changing technology this challenge launching today will produce from our nations’ innovators and entrepreneurs, particularly in the energy, SME finance and home buying sectors.”

The Smart Data Discovery Challenge, said the launch parties, aims to encourage cross-sector ideas covering financial services, energy, retail, transport and home buying to address problems such as the cost of living, the transition to net zero and supporting vulnerable individuals. The stated goal of the challenge is to foster individual innovators and partnerships to develop their initial ideas into feasible concepts with potential to move into development.

It will be open for ideas from 26 October to 8 December 2023, during which Challenge Works and the ODI will be running webinars to provide guidance and support on submissions. This process aims to lay the ground for a Smart Data Prize that would launch in 2024, with a share of up to £750,000 available to participating innovators.

From there, a longlist of ideas will be selected, and the Smart Data Discovery Challenge will host a hybrid event in March 2024 where ideas will be pitched. After assessment, the best will be rewarded with cash prizes.

“Innovators that take part in the Smart Data Discovery Challenge will join a community of cutting-edge and creative thinkers to help us to shape the direction of a potential Smart Data Prize in 2024,” said Louise Burke, CEO of the ODI.

“We want creative people from across industry, academia and civil society to join the conversation about opening up services using smart data to make people’s lives better and enrich our national data infrastructure.”


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