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Call for proposals: Funding to develop open source tools for data institutions

Wed Nov 18, 2020
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We are requesting project proposals aiming to improve the quality and interoperability of open source tools relevant to data access and data sharing initiatives, with funding of up to £15,000 available

Funding to develop open source tools for data institutions

19 Nov 2020

Tender reference: RDPM-054

Call for proposals by the Open Data Institute
Contact:  procurement@theodi.org

We are requesting project proposals aiming to improve the quality and interoperability of open source tools relevant to data access and data sharing initiatives, with funding of up to £15,000 available.


As part of our work on data institutions, the ODI is embarking on a new project exploring their technical infrastructure, with a goal to provide emerging data initiatives and institutions with an understanding of what technical tools are needed or available to fulfil their purpose.

Part of this ecosystem of tools and technology will be open source, and will help new data institutions and initiatives adopt and contribute to a common set of tools. Through this call for proposals, we aim to stimulate a positive step change in the quality, interoperability, usability and sustainability of such tools.

We are in particular focused on the use cases of open- and shared-data initiatives, and are working across a number of projects with existing data access initiatives and early stage data institutions.

Summary and timeline

To this end, the ODI intends to award funding of up to £15,000 (ex. VAT) to up to 4 individuals or organisations currently developing or maintaining open source tools or technology, and welcomes project proposals – following the timeline in table below.

We will consider project proposals aiming to develop new features for existing open source tools, but also proposals to improve the tools and technologies through user research, improved documentation, governance updates, engagement with communities, etc.

AimYour proposal should clearly outline how your project will help increase quality, interoperability, usability and sustainability of existing open source tools.
AudienceYour proposal should make the case for why this improvement will have a positive outcome for use cases related to data access initiatives / data institutions.
Welcoming applications fromIndividuals or organisations in the UK developing or maintaining open source software. Your proposal should clarify what your current role is in the project you aim to improve.
Value of awards (excl. VAT)
4x up to £15,000 awards
Questions to the ODI byNov 30, 2020 at 17:00 GMT
Answers to questionsDec 1, 2020 at 17:00 GMT
Costed proposals due byDec 4, 2020 at 13:00 GMT
Tender decision by
Week of Dec 7, 2020
Contract rewardedCirca 15 Dec 2020
ODI progress reviews
Final work delivered byMid-March 2021

Terms of payment

30% to be invoiced at the end of January 2021, and 70% upon satisfactory completion of the work. Payment will be made within 30 days of invoice received.


The ODI favours working in the open. The successful applicants will be expected to conduct this work in this manner through blogging and speaking about their work. In practice, the successful candidate will be expected to write at least one blog post in the course of the project, as well as give a presentation of the final deliverables at an ODI Fridays lunchtime lecture or similar event – which may occur after the end of the project.

The tool development will be expected to happen with users at its heart, and the successful applicants will be expected to conduct user research, testing and other forms of engagement with the potential or existing user base for the tool as a matter of course.

The successful applicants will then be expected to conduct its work on the development of the tool in the open as much as possible, with code, issues, roadmaps and decisions being documented in the open by default and exceptions to be approved by the ODI during fortnightly progress meetings.

The fortnightly meetings will be an opportunity for the ODI team to provide guidance, support and access to a network of organisations and initiatives interested in and working on data access, data sharing and open data.

Form of tender response

Interested parties should submit a costed proposal (in English) to procurement@theodi.org with reference RDPM-054  which include:

  • a short (no more than 3 pages) explanation of your proposed scope and approach. It should also include an explanation of the desired or expected impact and target audience(s) for the tool. Finally, the explanation should include an explanation of how the tool will be relevant to the work of data institutions or data access initiatives.
  • a short (no more than 2 pages) explanation on your proposed methodology, including whether you will work from already identified user needs or whether your work will include phases of user research to refine the scope and ambition of the tool
  • an estimated breakdown of effort between the core software development activities and the creation and delivery of the other deliverables, including training and communication materials
  • a description of the team who will do the work, including bios
  • examples of relevant past work

The ODI reserves the right to make both anonymised questions and answers public or shared with other organisations having stated their interest.

Decision criteria

All proposals will be assessed as described in our public procurement policy. In addition, for this procurement we will be looking for:

  1. evidence of past successful development of open source software for data management, publishing, sharing and access
  2. evidence of, or suitably advanced reflection on, the target audience, usefulness and potential impact of the tool to be developed on the state of the art of publishing open data – and a plan to work closely with data access initiatives and data institutions.
  3. Consideration for interoperability with other existing tools, with a view to make the data pipelines and processes for data sharing and access more effective and reliable
  4. Consideration for data ethics and the impact on people and communities of accessing, using and sharing data.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Would you welcome proposals that relate specifically to a single open data standard’s infrastructure, if they relate to data access initiatives? 

A: Given that the objective of the overarching project is to make tools more widely available to and known by data access initiatives, we are likely to favour open source tools that can demonstrate use (or potential for it) across multiple initiatives. A tool related to a single open data standard’s infrastructure might still be a good candidate if there is potential for use across initiatives.

Q: Are there limits on how many awards will be made to the same organisation, or how many projects one organisation can be involved in? 

A: There are no hard limits on number of proposals/teams. In order to create the broadest impact we will certainly seek to award funding to a variety of projects and teams.

Q: What regions / countries can apply?

A: For this round, all the awarded projects will need to have a UK presence. We hope to be able to broaden those requirements in future rounds of funding.

Q: In the timeline it’s mentioned that the final work must be delivered mid march 2021. Does this include everything?

A: all must be delivered and invoiced by mid-march.