Digital innovators rise to open data challenge

Date published: 24 October 2016

The Finance, Economy and Education Ministers have announced the winners of the first phase in the ‘open data for education’ competition.

The Ministers launched the competition in June 2016, challenging participants to create new and innovative resources using data from the public sector open data portal to assist with teaching in schools.

Six applications have been selected to receive £2,500 each to develop a prototype of their solution.

Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said: “The excellent response to this open data competition is testament to the appetite among the digital community to apply their skills and ideas to deliver solutions. The innovative use of public sector data among the first phase winners is hugely encouraging and I look forward to seeing how these applications are further developed into prototypes of new teaching resources for our schools.”

The winners of Phase 1 are:

  • Rose Kane Quinn (along with Aidan McCormick, Eamonn McNicholl and Kevin Broom) - Neueda Consulting
  • Martin Naughton - Mntech
  • John Hewitt – Geolytical (along with Jenifer McBratney)
  • Lorraine Barry - Queens University (independent application)
  • Fabian Campbell-West - Maverick Inc.
  • Phil Weir - Flax & Teal Limited

Their applications will be developed into prototype teaching resources for a wide range of subject areas, which include: to help encourage the reduction of waste; management of data, specifically databases; understanding the implications of natural disasters; food poverty and good nutrition; reasoning, numerical analysis and decision making relating to STEM; and environmental awareness, biodiversity and healthy living.

Each Phase 1 winner will now have five weeks to develop a prototype and will then present to a selection panel of education and innovation specialists to be in with a chance to win one of two £20,000 awards to develop a fully working teaching resource for schools for a minimum period of three years. 

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA said: “I firmly believe the Northern Ireland public sector can be a world leader in innovation. The launch of the OpenDataNI portal last year was the key driver for this challenge and for creating a government that works with business in innovative ways to build our economy.

“I continue to be impressed by Northern Ireland’s significant capability in data analytics and digital content. Encouraging the use of open data through competitions such as these is an innovative way for government to support these sectors and I have been encouraged by the diverse range of education resources which are being developed as a result of this competition.”

The Education Minister Peter Weir said: “Many congratulations to the first phase winners on reaching this stage of the competition. The ‘open data for education’ competition provides a platform to develop ways to use open data to create new innovative teaching resources. I look forward to seeing the resources that are developed as a result of it. 

“Effective links between schools and the business sector are an important aspect in developing business skills in schools and ensuring our young people can appreciate the full range of routes available to them when they leave school.”

The competition is jointly funded by the Department of Finance and the Department for the Economy on behalf of the NI Digital Catapult.

The competition is supported by Ulster University, CCEA, ODI Belfast, NI Digital Catapult and Catalyst Inc.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Winning submissions will receive £2,500 each to develop a prototype of the solution. Two of these will then be selected for phase II with a further phased funding of up to £20,000 to develop a fully working teaching resource.
  2. The Open data Strategy was published in January 2015 and can be found on the DoF website. The OpenDataNI portal was launched in November 2015.
  3. The aim of the Open Data Strategy is to embed a culture of ‘open by default’ within the public sector here to drive public service efficiency, encourage innovation, and improve the economy. Public sector data on OpenDataNI is free to copy, adapt, commercially exploit and publish.
  4. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or Tel: 028 9081 6895. Out of Office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

Share this page

Back to top