Putting students' performance into context wins entrepreneurs £50,000
Last night the Open Data Institute brought together the great and the good of the open data community at Bloomberg, Finsbury Square for an evening of celebration. Hosted by Sir Tim Berners Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, the evening celebrated the work of open data entrepreneurs, publishers and novices alike. But not only was this an opportunity to recognise some lesser known open data celebrities, it was also an important chance to mark the completion of the first Open Data Challenge Series and to announce the winner of the Jobs Open Data Challenge.
The Challenge question had been announced in January 2015 - asking entrepreneurs ‘How can we use open data to help people get better jobs and/or create new jobs?”. Since then, the competition has been fierce - over 25 teams submitted an initial idea for a product or service and experts and judges contributed to help the best ideas flourish. After much deliberation, Performance in Context (PiC) has been selected as the overall winner - an innovative product to help universities and graduate recruiters put applications into context.
PiC improves access to jobs for applicants from less-privileged backgrounds by empowering recruiters to understand applicants’ performance in the context of their broader school performance - highlighting where applicants have performed better than expected given the overall performance of the school they went to. Using an innovative combination of government open data, candidate-provided information and social background algorithms, the online product will ultimately disrupt traditional recruitment by making performance in context the norm. By drawing on a range of open datasets (from school performance tables to census data and indices of deprivation) to provide comparison points, PiC is able to generate a unique summary ‘achievement score’ and ‘deprivation score’ alongside 11 more detailed metrics for individual students. This data and insight is currently targeted towards organisations and universities recruiting large numbers of graduates. By providing performance in context insights, Pic supports recruiters to make more informed selection decisions regarding talented candidates from less-privileged backgrounds which, in turn, improves social mobility.
The PiC team has recognised and quantified a specific social issue - that academic performance is significantly influenced by a range of factors and students from deprived schools are significantly less likely to achieve A*-C in GCSE English and Maths. Consequently these students face a barrier to accessing competitive jobs and university places. In addition, PiC has identified and validated a clear business need - leading employers are concerned by the lack of social diversity in their intakes and the impact of limited diversity on business performance.
Perhaps you recognise PiC? In fact, it is not the only team to have competed in more than one Open Data Challenge. You may remember the name from the Education Challenge in which it was an unsuccessful finalist - losing out to tough competition from SkillsRoute (a platform which helps young people understand the range of options available after finishing GCSEs and explore their impact). Lucky for PiC though, this final Challenge theme and question was better suited to its proposition and the team decided to join us for another challenge process - and this time, has come out victorious!
The prototype of Pic is already available to buy and the team have secured clients in the professional services and insurance industries. This £50,000 prize funding will enable them to build the working product ready for delivery to corporate clients and academic institutions. The team has ambitious goals around the impact it would like to achieve - increasing social mobility and affecting the outcomes of 1,000s of job and university applications in the coming years.
In the final two months of the challenge, the three finalists all made significant progress and the judges had a tough decision to select an overall winner. The other two finalists were Imactivate Transport (previously known as Bus Start) - a service which connects more people to better jobs by improving public transport and Pikhaya Smart Streets - a free discovery tool for entrepreneurs, using open data to reveal viable business- and new job-creation opportunities in empty commercial premises in deprived urban centres. All the finalists demonstrated a strong case for the potential uses of open data in the Jobs sector - and we wish them all every success.
While this announcement marks the completion of the first series of Open Data Challenges, Nesta and the ODI are exploring opportunities for funding and collaboration that will enable them to run further open data challenges in the future. If you would like to discuss this with the team, please do get in contact: [email protected]
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