The open-data landscape holds opportunities for virtually every facet of modern business, says Chris Willsher, Director of Platforms and Data Growth Coach on the Communitech Data-Driven Innovation team. And this open data marketplace offers both direct and indirect advantages for those willing to explore them. Key to that exploration was ODX Ventures, a national initiative, lead by Communitech that helped entrepreneurs realize value from datasets released by federal, provincial and municipal governments to provide greater government transparency.

“I think there are very few, if any, industries that could not benefit from using open data,” Willsher says. “Companies in the health, education, transportation, financial, and manufacturing space have been looking for data that can help them generate new insights or build their product.” Willsher says savvy entrepreneurs understand that “using data that may seemingly have no direct relation to the company’s operation could be useful in creating new insights that can shift business in a new direction.”

Take retail, he says. By layering weather data over sales trends, companies can identify patterns and “then predict future sales or promote specific items, which can increase their revenue potential.” Open data can be very cost effective: “The only costs you are incurring are the time needed for your staff to mine the data.”

As all levels of government make data more freely available, more companies are using tech to make open data more accessible, so other companies can more readily extract value. The result is reflected in the bottom line, Willsher says: “Companies have embraced these data assets as a mechanism to fuel their growth. Many are recognizing the benefits that can be derived from utilizing open data to drive new insights and innovation.”

The Communitech Data Driven Innovation program, formerly ODX Ventures, has been key to helping startups realize the value of open data. Since 2016, the program has provided nearly $1 million to assist 18 startups in two cohorts. Tabnex, Sherpa and Intellizence each earned up to a $50,000 share of that support as members of the 2017 cohort.

Toronto-based Sherpa speeds the process of obtaining visas — a significant concern for business people travelling to multiple destinations — by simplifying complicated entry requirements.

Sherpa CEO Max Tremaine likes the potential for open data innovation: “There’s a world-leading culture of innovation in Canada, and simply opening up access to data and providing a means to request access to data is really the best that Canadian innovators can ask for.”

For Sherpa, the ODX Ventures funding helped enhance their software with the result that “2018 has laid foundation for sustainable growth looking forward.”

Kitchener-based Tabnex is using its proprietary algorithms and technology to change the future of hiring by rapid integration of data about potential hires. Tabnex says the decision-making insights gained by aggregating candidate data quickly from myriad accessible sites, make recruitment easier, faster and less expensive.

Tabnex CEO Marwan Areibi says the open access to labour-based census data has meant that his company has “been able to generate new products quicker and test new business models.”
Thanks to ODX Ventures, “We are now better positioned to support solution roll-outs with small- and medium-sized businesses comfortably.”

Toronto-based Intellizence uses artificial intelligence to curate data from many sources, to scrutinize opportunities for investment and sales, or provide risk warnings about clients, competition, suppliers, partners and prospects. Sachi Komarasamy, Founder and CEO, says that the AI-driven data aggregation tool allows Intellizence users to be proactive, rather than reactive, and stay ahead of the competition.

Those are just three examples of how Communitech data-driven innovation can help startups or enterprises reveal new opportunities for development. Says Willsher: “Companies have embraced these data assets as a mechanism to fuel their growth. Building upon the foundations of ODX, Communitech continues to promote the use of open data and contributed to Canada’s strong growth in the use of open data.”

You can grow your business by solving real-world problems with open data, with help from Communitech.

Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto.  This article originally appeared on their site.