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ODI Leeds Annual Report, 2014/15

This short report gives you an update of our progress and plans for the future.


ODI Leeds is a Node of ODI HQ that was established in November 2013. Details about the ODI can be found on this link The ODI and a description of The ODI Nodes is set out here ODI Nodes.

ODI Leeds opened in May 2014 at the physical innovation and collaboration space at Munro House.

We wrote a piece about it We have a new home, and we have tried to keep everyone updated with our blog.

There are 22 Nodes across 15 countries — ODI Leeds and its extended network has access to this unique resource as well as the support of ODI HQ.


We started out with a plan to to take the promise of open data and the world leading work of Leeds Data Mill and to become the catalyst for action with Open Data, for good across Leeds & the City Region. We knew that to be successful we had to do this with partners and use the brand and the access to resources from ODI HQ.

Our Node Charter commits us to creating economic, social and environmental value, We also set out with a determination to be sustainable and long term — this means we need to have a commercial outlook in the way we operate so that we can deliver on our charter.

We started with one main sponsor Leeds City Council, which was closely followed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Bradford Council, Bloom Agency and Arup.

Citu — provided us with initial support relating to establishing the property and as a Partner in Actuated Futures supported the Business Unit as an incubated proposition.

Over the course of 2014 we have been lucky to secure further sponsorship from Calderdale Council and KPMG.

We thank all our sponsors as your help has provided us with a platform to establish ourselves and develop into the organisation that we think can make a real long term difference.

Highlights of 2014/15

Innovation, Co-Production and Doing Stuff

We have worked with many partners during the year with the objective of creating projects and prototypes — real tangible outputs from our work. Examples of this are:

Products and Prototypes

#LeedsArtCrawl, #Ratemyroute, #Bin-goinHalifax #OpenForBusiness,

Collaborative Projects

Leeds Data Mutual, Leeds Smart Cities — A city of Wellbeing, Data Translation for Transport, Open Data in Waste Procurement, Open for Business. Leeds Asset Map.

Each of these projects has been the result of conversations and activity that has occurred in and around the ODI and its operation and all of our members have been involved.

What is great is that the challenges that are discussed are not exclusively open data related, as long as they include some open data we're happy to get involved — but we are also able to direct them towards the right place to develop them out. Our Data Mutual being a great example of a project that started out at ODI Leeds but has moved on to be worked up by Bloom Agency in collaboration with Leeds CC, Bradford MDC, Bradford University and the Connected Digital Economy Catapult (CDEC).

This level of activity has resulted in the establishment of the ODI Leeds Challenge Team which in simple terms is a distributed team made up of our sponsors and our network that are collaborating to address the challenges that are identified in the operation of ODI Leeds.

The Data City project

This is a project that has come from many conversations about a need to understand our city and its assets, from three standpoints.

1.Interested citizen, 2. Civic Institutions, 3.Businesses.

But not just to consume available data but to create their own citizen-driven data which can then be replayed as open data in Leeds Data Mill.

We will be launching phase 1 of this project at the end of March, and we have started with our data and digital assets, which means people, places, infrastructure, data sources, projects, challenges and whatever else our citizens think important. Subsequent phases of work will build on this platform as we create the tools for City as a Platform.

There is an obvious shared value in this project and we will be speaking to all of our sponsors to understand how they could be involved in it.

The way in which we are developing projects and success in delivering projects and prototypes has been recognised by Leeds University who are currently researching our approach to innovation.

Leeds ArtCrawl

This came from conversations that occurred within LCC and at ODI Leeds — we hosted the development of the product and you can check out the story here Leeds Art Crawl.

Rate My Route

Over December and January we ran an innovation pathway leading up to the #Hackmyroute Data Dive.

The pathway was delivered by ODI Leeds, WYCA(Metro) and Leeds City Council, and involved:

  • Problem and possible outcome development;
  • Method agreement and respective roles and input;
  • Warm up and stimulation events;
  • Data Dive — over a Friday & Saturday;
  • Winning team
  • Prototype build — hosted at ODI Leeds.

There were two great blogs produced that tell the story — Anarchic Ali — Blog, Leeds Data Mill

The Winning team was RateMyRoute whom received a grant of £4,500 from WYCA to build it as a working prototype.

The two other projects were

  • 1) Policy Planning Tool
  • 2) Route and Pollution Tracking — both of which have utility for WYCA and may be integrated within existing projects, so a real benefit to all involved.

This has all been delivered via the ODI Leeds challenge team — which is developing as a way to deliver innovation to our Civic Institutions in an open and transparent way, within the existing procurement structures.


We have invested in our trainers and now ODI Leeds node brings local, high quality training to the North of England at Munro House Leeds. We have a regular one day Open Data in a Day course and a half Day Open Data So What? course that happen once a quarter.

Our training is delivered by ODI Registered "Trained" trainers and experts, backed by resources from ODI HQ. By offering training locally, organisations in Leeds and the surrounding area, gain access without the hefty cost of travel and accommodation. At the ODI node, Leeds, we are passionate about open data, boosting data literacy and supporting the local digital and technology economy training. We have also hosted ODI HQ courses relating to Open Data & Procurement, Anonymisation and Practice.

Talks, Events, Parties, Meetings

We have hosted many more events, parties, hacks, discovery days, data-dives, Jams. meet-ups than we expected to.

The success of the Leeds CC "In Numbers" Events being a stand out of these. We have an open calendar so that everyone can see what is going on and get involved ODI Leeds Events.

What we have found is that the space is superb for collaborative working, for co-working and for being that neutral space that allows many conversations to happen, projects emerge and develop.

We have also seen the fact that we exist, and can relate on a personal and human scale to the context of Open Data, Technology, Innovation and Smart Cities means that we are becoming a place to host meetings where people in the region can meet discuss and do stuff, but also where we can host outside agencies to demonstrate the great things that are happening e.g. Ministerial visits, Cabinet Office, Future Cities Catapult, DCLG, #Northern Futures.

Added Value

As with all projects there are the unexpected benefits and we're pleased to have been able to provide our sponsors with free access to the following workshops and learning:

  • Open data and Procurement — free 1 day training;
  • The UK Anonymisation — Working Group
  • The "Art of Work" workshop — where the future of work and working was explored and developed;
  • Friday Lunchtime Lectures

We have also hosted Tech & Data meet ups such as Leeds Data Thing, Leeds Devops and Leeds Herd.

Creating social capital- We have hosted and supported at below cost, GovJam- where 40 public sector people redesigned their services using agile and digital service design approaches — Leeds GovJam, Leeds Service Jam — twinned with Copenhagen — Leeds Service Jam

We will continue with this and for example we are hosting Codeclub Pro and Data-Kind with The Young Foundation in April & May this year.

We supported the Bradford Connected Digital Economy Catapult Node — and agreed to be a partner in that organisation, anecdotally we have heard that the ability to access the established network and sponsors significantly helped this successful bid.

Co-working, Hosting and Memberships

All of our sponsors use the space to work, meet and host visitors, The Leeds Smart City Team, Data Mill, Metro & Yorkshire Card, Arup, Bradford & Calderdale, KPMG & Bloom are regular users of the Workspace.

The network we have built around the ODI Innovation space is emerging and we are now developing our co-working offer for Data Scientists in the City — Tuesday, Thursday and Friday's are Co-working @ODILeeds this is our free try out on the 17th March Co-Working.

We are also hosting organisations that are using and promoting technology and innovation across organisations and sectors that our approach and space aligns with. Examples of these are mHealth Habitat and SmartKlub.

Our Friday Lunchtime Lectures are building and will hopefully be more regular in the coming year, we would encourage our sponsors to use this as an opportunity to test their thinking and communicate to a friendly engaged audience how they are using and re-using data in their operations, or maybe to have some less formal fun discussions on all of our work.

We are developing our individual and SME membership and sponsorship offer alongside the ODI HQ evolving membership offer which will focus upon individual memberships with organisational sponsorship encouraged at Node level.

What does 2015/16 hold for ODI Leeds?

Be here next year and for as long as we are adding value:

Our plans for 2015/16 are to build on our work of 14/15 and create a long term organisation that will provide benefit for our sponsors, the City Region, the ODI and the Node Network.

Align with ODI HQ business Plan:

We will be working with ODI HQ to align our work with the developing focus ODI HQ where we will become a network and learning node and integrate with the Core, Innovation and Global Network of the ODI. The themes for this are set out in the ODI HQ's 2nd year report.

Being Commercial:

We established a separate Limited Company by guarantee in February 2015, and will be transferring the operation of ODI Leeds from Actuated Futures over the next month, this structure means that our profits will be reinvested in the company to meet the Vision, Mission & Objectives of the Node Charter. We need to recognise that we receive no direct funding and have to operate as a professional commercial operation so that we meet our financial obligations and can build a sustainable business.

Our business areas will be:

Sponsorship/Founding Membership:

We will develop our core support to our sponsors and continue to develop the bespoke support that each has used during the past year and grow our sponsors across the region, as each sponsor has joined we have seen the collective benefit grow and will be working with each of our sponsors to understand their requirements but also how we can build the local sponsorship ecosystem.


We will continue to supporting organisations to use open data and open innovation strategies to co-create potential approaches to managing and addressing their challenges. We have developed our innovation pathways where challenges are understood, exposed to a wide constituency using (Hacks, Dives Jams) and then using collaborative approaches potential approaches are iteratively built, tested and implemented, in the open — and then shared.


We will be offering a defined training programme from ODI Leeds, including external internal training offers.


Using the ODILeeds Challenge Team — create, deliver projects and share the learning of what we do.


2014/15 has been a year of change and development as we have worked to create the business model for ODI Leeds. We thank you all for your support and look forward to your continued involvement in what we expect to be another very exciting year.

Paul Connell


ODI Leeds