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Data driven growth: report of the UK-France Data Taskforce
Data driven growth: report of the UK-France Data Taskforce

In the fall of 2015, the French and British governments launched a taskforce (read our article, in French) to look further into the issue of data revolution, how it can foster economic growth and how the two countries could cooperate. Today, the co-chairs of this taskforce, Henri Verdier, Chief Data Officer of the French Government, within the SGMAP, and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, and Open Data Institute co-founder, handed over their report to the two governments, in London. Video interview with Henri Verdier.


The event took place at the Open Data Institute in London, on Wednesday, July 13th 2016. After several months of work, the Franco-British taskforce handed its report in the presence of Axelle Lemaire, French Minister of State for Digital Affairs, and Ed Vaizey, British Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy. The taskforce was commissioned last November by Minister Emmanuel Macron, Minister Axelle Lemaire and Minister George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to think about the challenges and opportunities in data revolution. 

Innovation, infrastructure, skills and empowerment in the digital age

In its report, the taskforce makes 70 concrete proposals for cooperation between France and the UK, combined in four main lines of common action:

  • Support data-driven innovation, including through great challenges and the increase in encounters and exchange programmes between French and British innovative ecosystems, to share best practices and expand the startup network between the two countries.
  • Build robust data infrastructures: data infrastructures are becoming essential to the economy. Quality and accessibility of data is critical, including through new programming interfaces (API). It is necessary to invest in the creation of baseline data registers and to continue to invest in electronic identification programmes.
  • Improve data literacy and skills in our societies: in addition to the alarming lack of data scientists across Europe, data literacy became essential to public and private decision-makers. Beyond the need for data engineers, massive education to data is a priority issue.   
  • Strengthen citizens’ confidence and empowerment: the potency of action that stems from data and new processing capacities should be used to promote innovation and a greater autonomy for citizens. The taskforce proposes diverse lines of research and experiment, including on data portability and algorithmic transparency, which will be conducted collaboratively between the two countries.


How these proposals could be implemented will be discussed between the two governments and actions will be presented in September.

 We have high hopes that our proposals will be taken into account by the two governments. »
– Henri Verdier, Chief Data Officer of the French Government, co-chair of the UK-France taskforce on data economy.


A joint public-private-academic taskforce

Henri Verdier, the Chief Data Officer of the French government, and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, Professor of Computer Science at Oxford and Open Data Institute co-founder, were appointed co-chairs of this task force. They selected a small team of experts from each country to drive the work of the taskforce:

• Patrick Cocquet - Cap Digital;
• Alban Schmutz - OVH;
• Mokrane Bouzeghoub - Allistene;
• Rand Hindi - Snips;
• Yann Lechelle - Snips;
• Clive Humby - DunnHumby;
• Doug Monro - Adzuna;
• Andrew Lawson - Salesforce;
• Stéphanie Finck - Salesforce.

In their work, the taskforce spoke to governments and international organisations, large companies and SMEs, individual entrepreneurs and startups. The recommendations take into account a wide range of attitudes many of which continue to evolve, around how we use and maintain data. The recommendations are the unanimous view of all members of the taskforce. They seek to balance benefits and opportunities against legitimate concerns in the rapidly developing world of data innovation.