Civil service ‘Dragon’s Den’ data challenge semi-final to be livestreamed on Thursday

By on 04/10/2021 | Updated on 04/10/2021
Henry de Zoete

Eight teams of UK civil servants are to pitch ideas to a judges’ panel of senior leaders this Thursday, in a livestreamed ‘Dragon’s Den’-style competition designed to find ways in which the government could make better use of its vast stocks of data.

Under the Civil Service Data Challenge – a joint initiative run by the Cabinet Office, Global Government Forum, NTT DATA UK, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Government Digital Service (GDS) – UK officials were invited to send in their ideas for data-based reforms or innovations, such as new services, operational improvements or information dashboards.

Nearly 200 ideas were received, and in June teams of civil service volunteers were formed around eight of the most promising. These included the creation of a civil service geographical capability map, the development of a tool to monitor medicines shipments and stocks, and the automation of benefits provision for disabled and sick drivers.

Facing the panel

On Thursday, these teams will be presenting their ideas to the judges, who include Henry de Zoete – a former Dragon’s Den winner, now serving as a Cabinet Office non-executive director – as well as Central Digital and Data Office director Joanna Davinson; NTT DATA UK head of public sector Vicki Chauhan; GDS innovation chief Sue Bateman; and Alison Pritchard, the ONS’s director general for data capability. The judges will quiz each team on their concept and development work, and on Friday they’ll announce the four teams selected to go forward to December’s Data Challenge Final.

At that Final event, the event’s sponsors – who include civil service chief operating officer Alex Chisholm, and the heads of both the policy and operational delivery professions – will select the strongest idea. The hope is that this concept will then move forward towards implementation, aided by the team’s research and planning work alongside £50,000-worth (US$68,000) of development support from NTT DATA UK.

The Semi-Final livestream will begin at 10am on Thursday 7 October, with a presentation by the team developing plans to bolster emergency planning by gathering real-time data on the distribution of UK citizens overseas. The last session – with the team examining the use of AI to aid peatlands protection work – will finish at 3.45pm. The full timetable can be found on the Data Challenge’s Semi-Final page, along with a video window that will go live as the first team begins its presentation.


To watch the Civil Service Data Challenge livestream, visit 10am and 3.45pm on Thursday 7 October. The judges’ decision will be
announced on Friday.


About Matt Ross

Matt is Global Government Forum's Contributing Editor, providing direction and support on topics, products and audience interests across GGF’s editorial, events and research operations. He has been a journalist and editor since 1995, beginning in motoring and travel journalism – and combining the two in a 30-month, 30-country 4x4 expedition funded by magazine photo-journalism. Between 2002 and 2008 he was Features Editor of Haymarket news magazine Regeneration & Renewal, covering urban regeneration, economic growth and community development; and from 2008 to 2014 he was the Editor of UK magazine and website Civil Service World, then Editorial Director for Public Sector – both at political publishing house Dods. He has also worked as Director of Communications at think tank the Institute for Government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *