A new data-focused accelerator programme, Data Pitch, has opened applications for European startups to apply for funding.

Data Pitch is a European Commission project, backed by the EU Horizon 2020 initiative. It’s aimed at funding data startups that have unique and innovative approaches to solving problems facing countries across Europe, from empowering users online to ensuring that people can develop the skills we will need in the future.

Over the next three years, the programme will provide around 50 startups with funding of up to €100,000, as well as mentoring and investment opportunities, to use their data skills.

It has partnered with public and private organisations who have agreed to give startups access to their data in certain challenges.

For instance, the German rail company Deutsche Bahn is providing its data for a challenge focused on changing public transport for the better, and the UK-based startup Imin, an open data scaleup working with health and fitness data is providing data for a challenge looking at creating a more active and healthier society.

You can see the full list of challenges here.

The programme will be delivered by a cohort of institutions across Europe: the University of Southampton, the Open Data Institute, Portugese innovation company Beta-I and French data marketplace platform Dawex.

Data Pitch’s project director and professor at Southampton, Elena Simperl, said the programme’s mission is important for the digital economy.

“It is the first ever data accelerator built to bring together organisations from all over Europe that own data and would like to see it used to solve some of their most interesting business problems, with startups which have fresh ideas for data products and services.“

Imin, the UK health data startup, benefited from funding and mentorship in a similar programme, the Open Data Incubator for Europe (Odine) of which Data Pitch is almost a next-generation initiative. As a result, Imin’s team is excited to be involved with Data Pitch.

“As alumni of the European Odine incubator, we are thrilled to be supporting the next generation of European startups by sharing data with Data Pitch. We’re challenging startups to create services that support active and healthy communities, and are very excited to see the new ideas that our data inspires,” said Imin’s co-founder Nishal Desai.

Startups are invited to apply to Data Pitch now. The first six-month programme will take begin in spring 2018, with another set of cohort set to start in 2019. In addition, despite the uncertainty over the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), UK startups are still encouraged to apply post-Brexit.

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Simperl said:

“I am very much looking forward to seeing hundreds of new, creative ideas on how to solve these challenges coming through.”

Data Pitch has a guide to applying for the programme on its website. The deadline date for the 2018 intake is 1 October 2017.