The University of Southampton

New Europe-wide open data incubator programme offers startups €100k equity free funding

Published: 20 May 2015

The new, EU funded, Open Data Incubator for Europe (ODInE), which involves academics from Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, is today calling out to startups across the UK and Europe, to apply for a place on its new programme with the chance to secure up to €100k grant funding.

The incubator programme, which is being announced at the 2015 World Wide Web Conference in Florence, has places for 50 startup businesses over the next two years. ODInE is being delivered by the Open Data Institute (ODI), University of Southampton and six other European partners, and has received €7.8m of EU funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 funding programme. New startups will be recruited every two months on a rolling basis.

Elena Simperl, Associate Professor in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, one of the ODInE delivery partners, said: "ODInE is both timely and unique. It is timely because, as open data enters the agenda of big and small industry and governments all over the world, we need to do more to ensure that the effort that went into publishing the hundreds of thousands of open data sets now available bears fruit. This can be achieved only by creating ecosystems, such as ODInE, in which open data is used to create economic and social value. It is unique because it gives companies the freedom to work on open data projects that matter to them, and to the society, using any technology, for no equity. A rarity in the accelerator marketplace."

ODInE has been modelled on the ODI’s highly successful Startup programme, which has so far supported 18 companies, nine of which have now graduated from the scheme. Together these companies have secured over £4m in funding and investment since joining and they employ over 70 people.

ODInE is aimed at small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) building a business around open data. Interested startups should register via Applicants need to submit a short proposal presenting the idea and the budget required. The applicant must be registered with the European Commission as an SME at the time of submission.

Successful applicants are eligible for:

  • a grant of up to €100,000 per company
  • expert advice from business mentors
  • peer-networking and support
  • technology and data sets
  • coverage in The Guardian datablog
  • brokering introductions to business angels and venture capitalists.

Funds can be spent on salaries, equipment, consumables, travels, subcontracting to other parties (e.g. for marketing or legal support), and indirect expenditure (office space, office infrastructure etc. calculated as 25% of the total direct costs).

Each proposal will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • Idea - the strength and novelty of the open data idea.
  • Impact - the value proposition and potential scale; market opportunity and timing and the social, environmental, economic benefits.
  • Team and budget - the knowledge and skills of the team, the capacity to realise the idea and appropriateness of the budget.

The selection team will prioritise those who work on things that matter.

Gavin Starks, CEO at the Open Data Institute, said: “ODInE offers startups access to the latest open data and business expertise, with funding that can make a real difference. In the existing ODI programme we found that startups valued being immersed in an open data ecosystem with others going through the same experience. We are excited that this new programme will be Europe-wide, given Europe’s thriving startup ecosystem and its leadership in areas such as smart cities.”

Eight partners, including the ODI, bid for the EU funding to develop ODInE: University of Southampton, The Open Data Institute, Telefonica Open Future, The Guardian, Wayra, Fraunhofer, Open Knowledge Foundation (Germany).

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