Test and develop

Test and develop the data infrastructure and relevant capabilities needed to fuel data-driven innovation within various Smart Data schemes and across sectors.

As Smart Data ecosystems continue to grow, they will require continuous investment from government and industry in data skills, literacy and infrastructure to create additional value. These stakeholders should focus on directly building the capability of the data workforce in the UK, as well as testing new data infrastructure and value propositions in increasingly sophisticated ways.

We envision different types of development activities to be led primarily, but not exclusively, by different stakeholder groups:

  • Government agencies and regulators should fund, oversee and provide data infrastructure for innovation programmes, such as data challenge series and matchmaking activities. The Innovation Programme Inventory provides a catalog of recent data and Smart Data innovation programmes, and the impacts they have had.

  • Business, alongside industry bodies and trade associations, should launch, support and provide data infrastructure for innovation programmes, such as data challenge series and matchmaking activities. Businesses of various sizes can play different roles in these programmes, whether it is providing data to build services with potential partners such as SMEs, accessing data from other companies and industries, or testing new commercial models.

  • Industry bodies and trade associations should invest in data skills and literacy initiatives to boost overall capability within their sectors. This could be done in conjunction with public sector organisations, academia and the wider education sector. Businesses should be actively investing in building capacity internally and partnering with data specialist companies.

Develop the capability of the UK Smart Data sectors

The data skills and literacy assessments conducted while building the ecosystem will naturally show gaps in certain areas. Research confirms that this is an area requiring constant investment, and there are roles for the public and private sector in further developing the skill and literacy landscape.

Government and industry should build the capability of the UK in-scope sectors, to deliver the roadmap through interventions that fill the gap between current and needed capability. This could include funding broader data literacy programmes, setting guidelines on accreditation, and the development and release of practical guidance on technical requirements for APIs.

Again the ODI Data Skills Framework offers guidance on the skills needed within the Smart Data sectors to continue to boost innovation.

Run innovation challenges and pilots

In order to further test propositions and infrastructure as was done in the early sandboxes, government and industry should run innovation challenges and pilots that encourage industry to develop solutions that use Smart Data, for example the UK’s Open Up Challenge. These challenges and pilots could be focused on particular problems Smart Data wants to tackle and that the market is unlikely to address by itself.

Besides just challenges, organisations can also support and facilitate matchmaking between data providers and data users to solve a societal or business challenge using Smart Data, adapting learnings and approaches from initiatives like Data Pitch, Nationwide’s Open Banking for Good and Digital Catapult’s Made Smarter Accelerator.

Providing this matchmaking approach helps to strengthen and build collaboration between corporations and innovators. It can help to demonstrate impact and contribute to wider-sector change and strengthen the wider data economy through behaviour change and shared learning.

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