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January - Founder's Update

Paul Connell - 2016 in review and a blazing 2017 ahead

As we kick off 2017 this is a quick blog to review what happened last year and where we plan to go next.

I’d like to kick off by saying that despite 2016 being quite a year, there is every sign that the activity and positive news that has come through ODI Leeds, is accelerating, and we’re very positive about the opportunities for us, our sponsors and the network.

2016 has been a year of growth, development and fun for ODI Leeds and as we set off into 2017 I wanted to put some thoughts down on how we did last year and our plans for 2017.

We will be celebrating our 3 year anniversary in April this year which will coincide with the Digital Festival, so there may be a party or two around that time, all welcome.

So much has happened in and around ODI Leeds and across the city since we opened and in 2016 we really started to see that activity start to take more shape and become established.

I’d like to thank all the people who have supported us.

Thank You

Firstly can we say thank you to all of our Sponsors who showed the foresight and confidence in us at the start of our journey, without them we would just not be where we are now.

BJSS renewed their sponsorship in Autumn 2016 with a focus on Innovation and Open Finance, and hot off the press KPMG have renewed their sponsorship for another year from January 2017 with a focus upon data and the tech sector in Yorkshire which will build on the DataCity data assets.

We also need to thank everyone we’ve worked, collaborated and done stuff with over the last year, all of whom are somewhere on our dashboard.

Over the next few months we’ll be working with each of our Sponsors to develop their packages and meet their priorities, and most of all share the learning across the network.

The support from our sponsors and the network has helped the brand of ODI Leeds to travel far and wide across the UK and globally. We are proud to say that ODI Leeds is now recognised as one of the critical assets that makes The City Region the place to innovate with data.


2016 has been a year of growth, development and progress for ODI Leeds. Whilst we still have the energy and dynamism of a start-up, we now have the products, services, clients and the basis of a business that, positions us for growth, deliver on the ODI mission and achieve both our ambitions and those of our sponsors. We have come along way since we opened in April 2014 and our dashboard shows our progress and is how we measure ourselves.

We built a new website during 2016 using our own internal team, allowing us to communicate effectively.

At the start of 2016 we became one of only two Pioneer Nodes (the other is Queensland) of the 30 ODI Nodes across 20 countries. This means that in the UK we are the only node to be able to operate & trade independently and also partner commercially with ODI HQ, we did some of this in 2016 and will be doing more of this in 2017.

Our Team - We now have three permanent and five part-time members of staff, plus a thirty strong challenge team. We also have the delivery capacity of the Sponsor network. This is a very powerful proposition and means we are able to win, co-create and deliver significant mission led, innovative projects.

Our Sponsors - We have grown our sponsor group to 10 organisations across the public & Private sectors. We are in discussions with a number of other sponsors that cover a range of sectors including automotive, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemistry data and also other public institutions.

Innovation, Events, Programmes & Projects: All parts of our business developed significantly in 2016 has so far been the busiest since we were established in November 2013. Some examples of our work in 2016 are:


FloodHack - Background and Outputs




Our ever growing events programme has developed into a regular set of smaller events and one off events that we plan manage and run. We also have a growing number of events that we host and support. Find out more -


IoT UK Boost - Q4 2015 - Q1 2016

ODI Start Up Accelerator - This will develop in 2017 to grow to a regular cohort of up to 5 start ups a year coming through ODI Leeds.

DataMillNorth - Our partnership is becoming more integrated and in 2016 we helped to extend the Leeds Data Mill to the North of England - it now has over 40 Data Publishers including 3 Councils - Leeds, Bradford & Durham.

DataCity - The Data City concept is a brand, an operating model, a collaboration vehicle with a developing set of data services that we continue to invest in.

Projects and Products

We are delivering more projects and building more services. We describe them on our website here. Some are proofs of concept, some meet specific needs and others are commercial offers that we will be looking to take to market with our partners in 2017.

Our first product launch will be in partnership with Imactivate Ltd and is an version of the Leeds Bins App for Cities outside of Leeds.

We have a pipeline of these products in development, if you have an idea or need help with a product let us know.

Highlights in terms of current projects are our innovation work with Defra, Highways England, DfT, Adobe Corp, Sport England, UK Parliament & WYCA - which we will be sharing more about as we go through 2017.

Ambition and ODI North

In simple terms we want to convene one of the best ecosystems for innovating with data in the world and to be the best place in the UK to do that. We’ve made a great start but we have only really just got going.

Our longer term ambition is to create a location and a brand that goes far beyond the Leeds City Region and Yorkshire, and in 2017 that may well become ODI North - convening networks across the North to innovate with data, create value from it building social capital with a mission.

All the best,