Fighting fit: The ODI on courting startups to use open data to get the UK moving

Fighting fit: The ODI on courting startups to use open data to get the UK moving

The Open Data Institute is aiming to change the fact that millions of people in the UK are inactive, and is using open data and startups to help engage citizens to exercise.


With around 18 million people in the UK classed as living inactive, sedentary lifestyles, the Open Data Institute (ODI) is on a mission to get more of the population moving and keeping fit.

To this end, the organisation is encouraging the startup community to harness the power of open data to create products and services that could encourage more people to make working out a more regular part of their everyday routine through its OpenActive initiative.

ODI’s head of sector programme, Chris Pett, said at its Not So Sporty Sports Day event on 16 August 2018 that OpenActive is “about finding a way to make it easy for people to discover and book activities that they want to take part in and get a habit of regular exercise in their lives”.

The ODI is partnering with Sport England and co-working space provider Huckletree on the startup accelerator portion of the project, to provide desk space, mentoring and advice to 10 of the participating startups until November 2018

They will also receive advice on marketing and legal matters, as well as access to a network of investors, thanks to the other partners in the programme such as Innovate UK and entrepreneur supporter Octopus Ventures.

Furthermore, the startups can use ODI’s open data to access information about local exercise opportunities, which they can potentially use to create their offerings.

“[The accelerator] is supporting startups through a process of learning about what the real needs for both users in the market and for business opportunity are, and what the real needs out there are,” added Pett.

“How can they uncover those needs and create products and services that really match them and will create a sustainable business for them, but are also going to get people to be more active?”

This, in turn, should pave the way for the participating startups to develop their initial product ideas even further.

“This is helping the startups see a way from their initial concept, through testing and iterating that idea, meeting potential suppliers of the data that they need to build their products on, figuring out how to get the data quality and the availability of that data up,” he said.

“And in finding out what is an investable proposition at the other side – so, at the end of the process, they will be able to present to the market.”