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ODI Leeds

Northernlands3 - A recap

We've been waiting for this one since Northernlands2 back in 2020. Nothernlands3 is supported by the Embassy for the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the West Yorkshire Innovation Festival and designed to showcase the opportunities that come with openly making connections and collaborating. It's a celebration of what we have in common rather than our differences! And after a year of remote working and adapting to fast-paced change, we at ODI Leeds have become more comfortable with running virtual conferences and have developed bespoke tools to help them run smoothly.

What is it?

If you haven't had the chance to join us at any of our Northernlands events yet you might be a little confused by the title, so let us explain:

The North + The Netherlands = Northernlands

Our Northernlands conference series encapsulates the goal to connect with our North Sea neighbours. More specifically the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It's a safe space to come together and present innovative business and projects that align with ODILeeds' themes and missions: #PlanetData, #OpenDataSavesLives, #DiversityData, #OpenTransport, #OpenEnergy and most importantly being #RadicallyOpen. Of course, this year this safe space had to be moved online due to COVID-19, but that didn't stop us from getting more people than ever to join in, watch our live-stream and collaborate on our Northernlands3 event page.

Why do we do it?

Why do we do anything at ODI Leeds? We care about people, about being open, about being helpful and about trying to make a difference. And we believe in smarter solutions to embed these ambitions in everyone's way of life through the clever use of data to create better working and living conditions. These are all big goals and we couldn't possibly face them by ourselves. This is where our sponsors, partners, and collaborators make such a difference - there is so much value in working together and helping each other out - that's why we want to connect good people out in the open to help them make things better in simpler ways. Northernlands gives small businesses and start-ups with big ambitions a platform to spread their message and reach out to like-minded professionals.

Who is it for?

Northernlands is free and open to all! But it's especially for all of our friends in the North and across the North Sea. We hope to show the world that there is more to the UK than just London and that the North is a great place to start and grow new business. Really, we just want to bring together like-minded people that want to make the world a little bit better and smarter. And luckily we have loads of friends with the same goals so we managed to invite about 30 exciting speakers. All because this event is as much for them and to give them the opportunity to establish new business as it is for everyone who is interested to learn more.

What happened?

Northernlands3 reached over 500 viewers on the day - and many more in the build up on social media and afterwards as the event is still accessible online here. But of course, the highlight of Nothernlands3 was the speakers and the live conversation:

We got off to the perfect start with introductory conversations between ODI Leeds Founder Paul Connell and the Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom and Kersten England, CEO of Bradford City Council. To top it all off we commissioned a beautiful poem called "Data Is" by talented Sharena Lee Satti.

Throughout the four sessions, we got to experience a range of different viewpoints on a variety of topics:

A big part of the discussion was the ethical use of data. In this category Jeni Tennison from the Open Data Institute discussed privacy in data-driven innovation, Julian Tait from Open Data Manchester shared their declaration for responsible data practices, Shiv Malik from Streamr explored the future of data monetisation and Caroline Gorski from Rolls-Royce presented the Aletheia Framework, which aims to enable ethical decision making through AI. This theme of intelligent and respectful innovation continued throughout all presentations.

Many of our speakers presented industry-disrupting innovation: FutureEverything's George Konstantakopoulos introduced us to the importance of art and creativity in scientific innovation. Alex Craven from The Data City showed us that the boom in new businesses calls for more agile industry classification. Matt Blakely visualised how Ludimos make professional cricket coaching more accessible through AI. Astrid Boeijen from the Brightlands Smart Services Campus and Dennis Dokter from Nexus were able to present culturally different versions of similar academia adjacent innovation hubs. Clearly there is a lot of innovation happening right now in the Nothernlands :)

A lot of this industry-wide innovation drives changes that extends to the future of work: At Northernlands3 this was reflected by Zandra Moore showing how Panintelligence makes complex data analysis and visualisation simple for non-specialists, Ruben Nieuwenhuis from Tech Connect reflected on the underlying accessibility issues that can cause lack of diversity and scarcity in IT recruiting and Stuart Sherman from IMC expanded on this discussion by presenting the free Biasproof test as an opportunity to understand and overcome subconscious biases. This workplace innovation manifests itself through the improvement of employee wellbeing initiatives, as outlined by Gary Butterfield from Everday Juice. Beyond this, Iowa State University economist Matt Clancy reflected on the impact the recent increase in remote working has had on productivity and the urban landscape. Similarly, Thimo Sommer presented Toogether's vision of the future of work, for example through more conscious commuting.

This idea of changes in urban living and mobility encapsulates another strand of Northernlands3 talks. On the urban mobility side, Jet Berndsen from the City of Amsterdam presented the eHUBS project, which explores eco-friendly shared mobility and citizen response. Beyond this, James Maddison from the Open Data institute elaborated on how the smart use of data can help cities face local government challenges. Finally, Arup's not only sustainable but regenerative approach to promoting biodiversity through urban design, as explained by Rory Canavan, highlights the symbiosis of climate health and citizen wellbeing.

Facing climate change through smart innovation and data use was another core theme of Northernlands3. In the spirit of being #radicallyopen Gea Mikic from Icebreaker One shared how their Open Energy programme aims to use data to enable Net-Zero goals. While this talk focussed more on data infrastructure, Jordan Appleson from Hark elaborated how IoT can enable smarter, real-time insight to reduce the energy consumption and environmental impact of industrial properties. Similarly, Benno Schwarz from the Dutch startup Hello Energy and Leonard Carey from AwareTag advocated for the positive environmental impact that can be achieved through smarter real estate.

A talk that nicely bridged the gap between Northernland3's climate change and health innovation strands was that of Danielle Knight from the University of Westminster, which covered climate-inspired urban design and the development of an encrypted healthcare data platform. To give us a different perspective Herko Coomans from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Wellbeing & Sport showed us how they approach healthcare digitally. Marc Farr from Beautiful Information highlighted a similar view about the importance of intelligent data use in healthcare when he presented the #OpenDataSavesLives initiative (that we at ODI Leeds are all about!). Similarly, Rikkert Paping showed a Dutch view of ethical and clever healthcare analytics as performed by LOGEX. Finally, the big finale of Northernlands3 was a chat with Ben Goldacre from the University of Oxford's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine about the OPENsafely project, which aims to provide a secure healthcare data platform to create more timely and accessible insight. (If you're interested we even hosted a big discussion to review this work with loads of industry experts at our most recent #OpenDataSavesLives session.)

What next?

We're looking forward to seeing the projects our speakers have presented evolve and hopefully, take off so by the time Nothernlands4 rolls around we've got some more success stories to talk about! Yes, you've read right - Northernlands4 is already on our agenda! We've covered some good ground at Northernlands3 but our work is never over. There are always new and exciting projects to promote and get involved in. There are always status updates on things that have already been covered. And as long as the North keeps innovating we'll keep supplying the neutral platform this needs to thrive and grow.

So where do we go from here? Well, we must include a slightly cheeky plug to join our mailing list because it is the best way for you to find out about all upcoming events and projects.