• Status: Closed

  • Key features: Investment of up to £4.5m in collaborative research and development that addresses the technical challenges and business opportunities presented by the huge growth in data.

  • Programme: Collaborative research and development

  • Award: Up to £4.5m

  • Opens: 06 Jan 2014, 00:00

  • Registration closes: 26 Feb 2014, 12:00

  • Closes: 05 Mar 2014, 12:00

  • Support phone number: 0300 321 4357

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Data exploration - creating new insight and value

Competition results

The results of this competition are now available; see the PDF of the winning project proposals.



The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £4.5m in collaborative research and development that addresses the technical challenges and business opportunities presented by the huge growth in data.
This competition focuses on innovations in the data exploration techniques of analytics, modelling and visualisation to generate new insight and value from large amounts of complex data. Additional funding of up to £2.5m in total may be available from the Arts and HumanitiesBiotechnology and Biological SciencesEconomic and Social, and Engineering and Physical Sciences, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
Proposals must be collaborative and business-led and include at least one small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). We expect to fund mainly industrial research projects in which a business partner will generally attract up to 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs).
We expect projects to range in size from total costs of £100k to £500k, although we may consider projects outside this range, and they should last between six and 24 months. 
This competition opens for applicants on 6 January 2014. The deadline for registration is at noon on 26 February 2014 and the deadline for applications is at noon on 5 March 2014
A briefing event for potential applicants will be held in London on 7 January 2014.


The amount of data available to organisations is growing exponentially. The rate at which it arrives is often difficult to handle, and its sheer volume or complex structure can be problematic. Data growth presents challenges but it also presents opportunities for organisations that can explore it effectively. 
We aim to stimulate innovation to address the technological challenges associated with exploring large and complex data. The data exploration techniques of analytics, modelling and visualisation are used by companies across many sectors of the UK economy. They contribute billions of pounds in revenue, by helping businesses to organise and understand data and to make decisions based on it. It is estimated, for example, that the potential annual value of big data is $300bn to US healthcare and €250bn to Europe's public administration. Continued innovation in these data exploration techniques is needed to keep UK businesses competitive and sustainable. 
We aim to stimulate collaborative innovation across supply chains, sectors and disciplines and particularly want to support ideas that are relevant to a range of markets. 


The technological scope of this competition is closely aligned with the information and communication technology (ICT) section of our Enabling technologies strategy 2012-2015
All projects must contain a significant and identifiable element of technology innovation and risk, in other words some uncertainty as to how significant technical limitations or barriers can be overcome. We are keen to encourage multidisciplinary innovation based on recent technical developments or breakthroughs that could have applications in a range of markets. This could include taking a known technology into new application areas, where the significant technical challenges to be overcome are clearly described in the proposal. 
The scope of the competition includes but is not limited to: 
  • designing data exploration tools for non-ICT specialists across different sectors 
  • exploring various types of data across application areas or sectors 
  • enabling collaborative exploration of data by two or more experts simultaneously 
  • reducing the cost of high-fidelity visualisation of data 
  • identifying exceptions, deviations or unusual occurrences in behavioural data 
  • providing tools that enable intelligent, predictive modelling capabilities, including the integration and analysis of heterogeneous data types 
  • more immersive interaction with data using appropriate interfaces (for example touch, speech, gesture, emotion-sensing). 
Sectors identified as having specific challenges in exploring data include: 
  • bioscience and bioinformatics 
  • creative industries 
  • defence and intelligence 
  • engineering and manufacturing 
  • financial services 
  • healthcare 
  • oil and gas exploration 
  • space and physical sciences 
  • telecommunications and transport networks and services. 
Projects must focus on one or more of the data exploration techniques of analytics, modelling and visualisation. The approach to these techniques must be innovative. 
Projects will ideally involve collaborations between organisations with a data challenge and those that can help address that challenge. Applications should describe how, through exploring data, the project results will enable at least one of the following: 
  • novel insights to emerge more easily 
  • unobvious value to be realised more easily 
  • key decisions to be made more easily. 
  • Projects may wish to consider using the facilities of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). More information can be found at www.stfc.ac.uk/1792.aspx 
  • The focus of this competition is not on collecting, refining or cleansing data, so projects that address only these challenges and not the techniques listed above will be considered out of scope. 

Funding allocation

We have allocated up to £4.5m to fund collaborative research and development projects that address the technical challenges outlined in the scope. 
Additional funding of up to £500k each may be available from DSTL, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and Economic and Social Research Council. This additional funding may support business-led projects in line with the scope of this competition that contain a significant, high-quality academic or research base component and demonstrate added value by building on, or being complementary to, the existing research programmes and portfolios of these organisations.
Specifically, example scope areas for each organisation are: 
  • AHRC: for example, finding ways to better explore the potential richness of data embedded in social media, gaming, or historic/heritage data 
  • BBSRC: for example, software to enhance data analysis, integration and exploitation by the bioscience R&D community, particularly where it will address bioscience challenges such as global food security, helping the UK become a low-carbon economy and driving advances in fundamental bioscience underpinning health and quality of life 
  • DSTL: for example, analysing and visualising behavioural information from various sources to identify exceptions, deviations or unusual occurrences. More generally, exploring data in support of defence and security applications 
  • EPSRC: for example, real-time data analytics (and in particular those arising from the Internet of Things and evolution of the Internet) in areas such as modeling and inference and for these to have actionable outcomes that deliver usable tools and fast routes to application
  • ESRC: for example, development of tools and methodologies that will be of interest to the social science community, particularly interested in projects that lend themselves to areas such as financial services, retail, cities, healthcare and energy/social science of the environment, drawing on complex and diverse datasets. 
Successful applicants can attract grant funding towards their eligible project costs. The percentage of costs that we pay varies, depending on the type of research being carried out and the type of organisation involved. 
For this competition, projects must be business-led and collaborative and include at least one SME. They should last six months to two years. We are primarily seeking to fund industrial research with a business partner attracting 50% public funding for their project costs (60% for SMEs). Research organisations may participate in projects as a partner in a consortium, however, at least 70% of the project costs must be incurred by businesses. We expect projects to range in size from £100k to £500k. We may consider larger projects but applicants should discuss this with us before making their application. 
Projects are generally expected to be at the industrial research stage, although they may include elements/work packages of pre-industrial/experimental research, particularly if they address areas of interest to research councils listed above. 
Some work packages of industry-oriented basic research may be supported, provided they are clearly shown to be an essential part but not the main focus of the innovation project. 
We expect most projects to start from the ‘proof of concept' maturity level and to work towards the ‘demonstrator' level. 

Looking for partners to work on your project? 

Go to connect to find collaborators and networks. Find out more about our data exploration initiative and information about events related to this competition.

Application process

This competition opens for applicants on 6 January 2014
The deadline for registration is at noon on 26 February 2014. The deadline for applications is at noon on 5 March 2014
Applications are assessed on individual merit by an independent panel of experts. We may apply a portfolio approach across the challenges and sectors, subject to applications meeting the required quality threshold. 
A briefing event will be held in London on 7 January 2014 to highlight the main features of the competition and explain the application process. Applicants are strongly recommended to attend. 

More information

To apply you must first register with us through the competition page on the website. Registration opens when the competition opens and closes a week before the deadline for applications.

Key dates

  • Competition opens: 6 January 2014
  • Briefing event: 7 January 2014
  • Registration deadline: 26 February 2014 noon
  • Deadline for completed applications: 5 March 2014 


As part of the application process all applicants are asked to submit a public description of the project. This should adequately describe the project but not disclose any information that may impact on intellectual property, is confidential or commercially sensitive. 
The titles of successful projects, names of organisations, amounts awarded and the public description will be published once the award is confirmed as final. 
Information about unsuccessful project applications will remain confidential and will not be made public. 
E-mail pressoffice@tsb.gov.uk with any queries.