The Societal Problem Europe Funds Another Data Accelerator to Startups

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A new European Commission-funded startup accelerator, Data Pitch, is being launched today with the aim of connecting established businesses and organizations with lots of data with startups who might be able to help them unlock the value of the info they hold and thereby tackle industrial and societal challenges.

The EC says it is committing €7.1 million into “data-driven innovation” over the next three years, with €4.8M going directly to fund startups and SMEs via this “startup-corporate collaboration” Data Pitch program.

Societal Data Pitch will provide up to 50 European startups and SMEs with up to €100,000 in equity free funding, it said today, as well as mentoring, investment opportunities, and access to data from established businesses and the public sector with each program running for six months.

A spokeswoman told us that societal Data Pitch would operate across Europe, with the aim being to accelerate between two to three cohorts per year. Startups will be able to apply for a place on July 1, 2017, with successful teams selected in October and November, and the first cohort joining the program in December.

Societal

The ambition is to create an innovation ecosystem for Europe, where larger organizations work closely with agile startups to innovate and learn from each other, using data as an enabler to solve problems, the EC said in a statement.

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The funding for the initiative is coming from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. And the three-year data-focused accelerator project will be delivered by The University of Southampton, the Open Data Institute, Portuguese accelerator organization Beta-i and French data marketplace platform Dawe.

Societal Among the areas and challenges it is going to consider are:

  • Smart Cities
  • Food & agriculture
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Retail
  • Data Privacy
  • eTourism
  • Finance and Telecoms

Data-driven hackathons (aka ‘datathons’) will be used to define challenges, with the accelerator planning to partner with established hackathons across Europe such as Pixels Camp, Angelhack, Hack HPI and The Port Hackathon in Cern as well as taking crowdsourced suggestions to feed into these idea sourcing events, the first of which will kick off this spring.

To give you an idea of the kinds of projects Data Pitch might fund. The spokeswoman said it is drawing on the Open Data Challenge Series as its model giving an example from that program. Create further evidence for what are effective interventions for rehabilitation, and address the rise in personal crime.

The winner in that instance, Check That Bike!, is a free online service that lets people check whether a second-hand bike they want to buy has been previously stolen.The service tapping into (open) databases of stolen bike details (such as police data, national and local registers, manufacturers, insurers); and also the Bing search engine to identify crime hot spots. The team apparently also makes use of Freedom of Information requests to try to get more police forces to open data on bike unique frame numbers that been registered as stolen.

Commenting on Data Pitch in a statement, Elena Simperl, a professor at the University of Southampton and project director for the accelerator program, said the aim is to create “a European ecosystem for data-driven innovation”.

Societal Startups wanting to apply for the Data Pitch program must

  • Be registered with the European Commission
  • Have less than 250 employees
  • Have less than €50 million turnover
  • Be single companies only, consortia are not allowed
  • Eligible countries are EU member states, associated countries eligible to receive Horizon 2020 funding

In the case of the UK, which last month initiated the two-year negotiation process of leaving the European Union, the spokeswoman confirmed UK startups can still apply to the program even though Data Pitch is envisioned to run until the end of 2019.

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