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ODI begins fitness-focused startup accelerator to get the UK moving

The Open Data Institute is calling for startups to join its accelerator programme, as it aims to get more people to be active in the UK

The Open Data Institute (ODI) is urging startups to join its six-month OpenActive accelerator programme and create technologies to help 18 million sedentary people across the UK get active. 

The ODI offers training and advice to businesses on how to understand and use data, and is partnering with exercise promoters Sport England on the accelerator, which is accepting applications until 11 March 2018.

ODI will shortlist the candidates for a four-day bootcamp, running from 19 to 22 March,  before selecting its top 10 startups to participate in the programme for six months from 1 May.

The selected cohort will be expected to use open data from the British Cycling, England Netball, Forestry Commission, Canal River Trust and others to create products and services that shine a light on the exercise opportunities that exist for people in their local area.

This data will include, for example, details of courts and pitches for hire, exercise classes and clubs, as well as information about their booking options.

OpenActive will provide the selected companies with partners and expertise, mentoring, funding, cloud storage, workshops, software and legal advice.

The accelerator comes as part of a wider push from ODI and sport promoters ukactive and London Sport, to drive growth in startups.

According to a Sport England survey, nearly 18 million people struggle to maintain an active lifestyle in the UK. Jeni Tennison, CEO at ODI, said opening up access to this data is a vital part of changing this.

“The sport and tech sectors are working together in a new way, building an open data ecosystem that delivers both the social benefits of people being more active and business opportunities,” she said.

“Physical activity providers have demonstrated their commitment to this vision by publishing open data about what they offer. Now it’s time to see how that data can be used in novel ways to get people active.”

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Orsola De Marco, head of startups at ODI, said people struggle to stay active for various reasons, including health or emotional restraints or time management.

“Data can reduce friction across services and create solutions that are tailored to people’s needs. Allowing startups to respond to specific challenges of their choice makes way for broader innovation across the sector that can reach different parts of our society,” she said. “This diversity creates a powerful peer network and offers valuable opportunities for collaboration.”

Dave Newton, director of mass market at Sport England, said OpenActive is a sign of the continued efforts to meet the digital demands from consumers in this sector.

“This is a strong step in the right direction, and is an exciting time for the sector as the collaborative use of data, both shared and open, becomes even more essential to providing the consumer with easy, flexible access to engage with sport and activity,” he said

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