Management > Open Data

ODI gets new Omidyar Network funding to help build open data ecosystem

David Bicknell Published 06 April 2018

$2.5m round follows earlier Omidyar funding for the Institute


The Open Data Institute (ODI) has gained a third round of funding from Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

The latest funding, $2.5m, follows earlier tranches of funding of $750,000 shortly after the ODI launched in 2013 and a further commitment of $4.1m in 2015.

The Omidyar Network funding is the ODI’s second recent multi-million pound investment. In October 2017 it announced £6m in funding from Innovate UK to deliver a three-year innovation programme.

The funding, the ODI said, will help it deliver on its mission to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem, where people can make better decisions using data and manage its harmful impacts.

The ODI added that it will achieve this by: creating sector-change programmes that bring together public, private and third sector organisations to address specific challenges in industry and society using data;  supporting companies and governments with data transformation, learning from experience to create practical tools and learning materials that help organisations adopt good practices for data collection, sharing and use; and building and supporting peer networks that enable people around the world working in this fast-moving area to learn from one another

ODI chief executive Jeni Tennison said, “This funding will play a crucial role in enabling the ODI to deliver on our mission. As data moves from being scarce and difficult to process to being abundant and easy to use, there is an urgent need to build trust in how data is used, and harness its value for social and economic benefit. This grant supports our work developing ethics, equity and engagement around data. It helps us strengthen data infrastructure, making it as open as possible while preserving privacy; increasing data literacy and fostering open innovation.”

Martin Tisné, Investment Partner, Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network, said,"The ODI has succeeded in putting open data firmly on the map, as a foundational part of the data infrastructure any government or business needs to succeed. Data that is as open as possible while preserving privacy is essential to the success of artificial intelligence and other areas of data innovation. The ODI is one of the rare organisations that work across open data, algorithmic accountability and privacy.”

The new funding will allow the ODI to build on and advance expertise in its current programmes of work, including setting up the Open Banking Working Group in September 2015 and developing a data standard for the industry; leading OpenActive in partnership with Sport England, an initiative to help reduce inactivity in England by making data about physical activities more openly available; and convening pharmaceutical organisations to work together to openly publish data on the antibiotic drug resistance in order to guide clinicians on their effective use.

In addition, it is working with specialist retail analyst Dunnhumby to explore how the sector can work together to turn GDPR from a compliance obligation into an opportunity to build services that meet shoppers needs; supporting hundreds of startups globally through the ODI Startup incubator; and training thousands of people to acquire new data skills in over 20 countries, from Tanzania to Mexico, Malaysia to Ukraine. It is also developing the Open Data Leaders Network which enables peer-to-peer learning for open data practitioners around the world.


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