Press release

Silicon Valley comes to Downing Street

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Students who have designed revolutionary applications using government data will receive awards from the Prime Minister today.

CAB 228-11 

Students who have designed revolutionary applications using government data will receive awards from the Prime Minister at Downing Street today.

The eight groups of students from universities around the UK were announced today as winners of a competition to design useful consumer applications using new open public data in healthcare, education and the environment. The winning applications include tools to help citizens to choose schools, report local eyesores and find local hospitals with the shortest accident and emergency waiting times.

Each group also wins a trip to Silicon Valley in the United States to visit entrepreneurial technology companies. The winners were selected from thousands of students entering an ‘appathon’ competition held around the country last month by the ‘Silicon Valley Comes to the UK’ programme.

Welcoming the winning students at a reception to honour them at 10 Downing Street today, the Prime Minister said:

Silicon Valley Comes to the UK is one of the most important inward investment events of the year, bringing leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors together with British technology companies and entrepreneurs to spark new connections and investments.

As I’ve said before, I am committed to making the UK the best place in the world to start, run and grow a high tech company. That’s why we have introduced more generous tax breaks for early stage investment, accepted the recommendations of the Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property, launched the Entrepreneur Visa, as well as a host of other policy changes.

A key part of this technology agenda is our commitment to open data. Over the past 18 months we have set a huge amount of government data free, and we are committed to going even further in the months ahead.

I warmly welcome the fact that Silicon Valley Comes to the UK has organised this competition to reward the creative use of government data and I congratulate the winners. This type of innovation can produce new applications and services that generate significant social and economic benefits across our society.

Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, who is responsible for transparency and open data, also met the students at Downing Street and said:

These applications prove the potential power of public data to drive entrepreneurial growth, choice and competition in public services.

This Government has the ambition to be the most transparent in the world. Since we came to office, we have begun to publish more government datasets, in a useable format, than any other country but we need entrepreneurs to start developing it. Today is a great example of what we want to achieve more of.

I’m delighted to see so many potential young developers showing such an active interest in developing public data.

Sherry Coutu, co-chair of Silicon Valley Comes to the UK, said:

The intention of SVc2UK is to inspire students and alumni to consider starting or joining an entrepreneurial business at some point after graduation and to foster relationships between the leading entrepreneurs, angels and investors and scientists from around the world.

The appathon, in particular, provided students with a capacity to code with a fantastic opportunity to show what they could do, gathering real-world experience. It’s crucial that university students gain these skills.

Notes to editors

  1. Photos of the winners are available on the Cabinet Office Flickr page.
  2. The students used public data available on the Government’s data portal. Data.gov.uk brings together the data government is releasing as part of its transparency agenda in one searchable website. The data is published in a format that can be reused by any individual or business to create innovative new software tools. Data.gov.uk now contains over 7,500 sets of public data.
  3. New sets of data published by the government on data.gov.uk since May 2010 include street-level crime data, roadworks on the Strategic Road Network, cycle routes and the national car park database. These and other commitments to publish more data on health, education, transport and criminal justice over the next year were set out in letters from the Prime Minister to Cabinet in May 2010 and July 2011.
  4. The not-for-profit, student-led SVc2UK programme is co-chaired by angel investors Sherry Coutu, voted by WIRED magazine as one of the top 25 most influential people in the wired world and early stage technology investor, and Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and Advisor to StartUp Britain.
  5. Silicon Valley Comes to the UK held the month long appathon in Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and London. It attracted approximately 870 students from 15 universities across the UK.
  6. The appathon was designed to support and encourage university students to use government data to create innovative consumer applications. It encouraged students to unlock the power of government data to make both a positive social impact and enhance its accessibility to peers, parents and grandparents.
  7. The reception at 10 Downing Street will honour the university students who won the appathon to create the best ‘apps’ for government data.
  8. Representatives from each of the winning groups will tour Silicon Valley in March 2012.