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Offices of Data Analytics need to go beyond being considered as a ‘non-essential luxury’ and start to make a case for data analytics to become the ‘golden thread’ throughout decision making, service design and delivery. How do organisations get started with stretched resources and dwindling budgets?

From business cases to innovation bids, there have been a range of different approaches taken to secure initial funding. Below we outline ideas for possible funding methods and sources:

In-house investment

If the ODA originates and is driven from a single organisation, funding would be obtained from within the organisation’s own budget. A strong business case is likely to be required in order to achieve this. The investment may initially be only resource based, with the service’s own assets used to design and set up the project, alongside their other roles and commitments (such as project management or information governance). A data sharing proof-of-concept project could also be run in house if capacity was there, using existing analysts to identify, source and use partner data. However, this would require the input of other in-house resources such as those mentioned above.

Pros

  • Cost effective way to lay the foundation to grow the project
  • Early proof of concept puts the project in a strong position to be able to apply for funding elsewhere
  • Creates something tangible to be ‘sold’ to partners, to get them on board further down the road

Cons

  • Austerity limits possibility of single organisations having the level of investment required
  • Not conducive to a collaborative approach and shared ‘place-based’ vision
  • Difficult to have all the information needed to inform a business case where criteria will most likely be linked to cashable savings
  • Will be influenced by single organisational culture.

Collaborative and Equal Funding

A range of services equally fund the ODA and have equal oversight and governance of the process and projects. Each organisation may also provide time and resources to help the set up and running of the ODA, in addition to financial investment.

Pros

  • Breaks down organisational barriers and creates a mutual data-sharing culture
  • Creates and embeds a shared vision and set of objectives
  • Provides a more holistic view of and set of solutions to data sharing issues
  • Provides a wider source of funding

Cons

  • Collaborative funding structures can take a long time to design and agree
  • Competing organisational priorities could make prioritisation and final decision making difficult
  • Time and resources may be difficult to quantify when holding partners to account for their contributions

Tiered Funding Structure

One or more organisations form the oversight of the ODA and contribute funding, with a number of tiers underneath made up of other partners, each contributing a predetermined amount (as per their tier). Tiers may be organised based on the level of input or usage of the ODA function. This may also incorporate a ‘cost- free’ tier, where partners can document their interest and support through data provision or consultancy where necessary.

Pros

  • Breaks down organisational barriers and creates a mutual data-sharing culture
  • Provides a wider source of funding
  • Is a true collaborative approach - more partners will feel invested in the overall approach; embedding the vision and objectives
  • Provides a more holistic view of and set of solutions to data sharing issues
  • Can help formalise the structure and clearly define the level of engagement of different services

Cons

  • A complex tiered funding structure can take a long time to design and agree
  • Would require extra resources to own and manage due the number of partnerships and level of financial partnerships
  • Competing organisational priorities may discourage involvement from wider services

Grants and Prizes

Obtaining a sum of money from a government or other organisation for setting up an ODA or running a particular data sharing project or pilot. There are a range of grants and prizes designed for innovation, digital transformation or artificial intelligence and machine learning. Different levels of grants or prizes will be appropriate for different aspects of the ODA. For example, smaller challenge prizes are likely to be more ‘project specific’; whereas wider government grants or transformation funds may be more suitable for implementing a new solution or transforming an existing service.

Pros

  • There are a number of different options/new sources continually coming available
  • Often come with accompanying mentoring and support
  • Funding is usually timely

Cons

  • Oversubscribed funding mean processes are very competitive
  • Applications are time consuming and need a large amount of detail
  • Grants rarely last longer than three years, therefore a longer-term strategy is required to continue
  • Specific priorities for types of activity

Examples of funds and grants

GovTech Catalyst Fund - The GovTech Catalyst (GTC) supports public sector organisations to find innovative solutions to operational service and policy delivery challenges. The £20 million fund, awarded via competitions, provides support to define, develop, test and access creative solutions to complex public sector problems.

Police Transformation Fund - In excess of £100 million, the fund is intended to transform policing by investing in digitalisation, a diverse and flexible workforce and new capabilities to respond to changing crimes and threats.

In Avon and Somerset, a successful police transformation fund bid was of pivotal importance for setting up the ODA by giving the capacity to the team to provide mock-up examples that leveraged data projects’ usefulness for implementation.

Horizon 2020 (EU) - Horizon 2020 an EU research and innovation programme with almost €77 billion of funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020). The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science and technology, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering solutions to big challenges facing society.

Transformation Challenge Award - the former fund was available to support local authorities, including fire and rescue authorities, that were at the cutting edge of innovation for service transformation. The award sought radical innovations involving two or more local authorities combining their operations across all, or a major part, of their service delivery and back office.

Essex Council Council were awarded funding from the TCA which was used to initiate their Essex Data programme and acquire the data sharing platform PredictX.

Prizes - A way to generate innovative and sustainable open data solutions. More NGOs, government departments and city governments, are using challenge prizes to help develop new products and services which ‘solve’ a problem they have identified using open data.

Authors

Michelle Eaton

Michelle Eaton

Michelle Eaton

Programme Manager

Michelle worked in the Government Innovation team on how the smarter use of data and technology can help civil society and public sector organisations deliver services, better.

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Camilla Bertoncin

Camilla Bertoncin

Camilla Bertoncin

Assistant Programme Manager, Government Innovation Team

Camilla is an Assistant Programme Manager in the Government Innovation Team.

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