2018 GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge to open on 9 May 2018

Calling all open data champions for annual innovation prize


Are you an open data champion?

The Ebbe Nielsen Challenge is an annual incentive competition that seeks to encourage innovative uses of and applications for the open biodiversity research infrastructure supported by GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. These creative applications of GBIF-mediated data can come in a wide variety of forms and formats—for example, new analytical research, richer policy-relevant visualizations, web and mobile applications, improvements to processes around data digitization, quality and access, or something else entirely.

The 2018 Challenge will award €34,000 for advancements in open science that feature tools and techniques that improve the access, utility or quality of GBIF-mediated data. Under this open-ended call, challenge submissions may build on existing tools and features, such as the GBIF API, Integrated Publishing Toolkit, data validator, relative species occurrence tool, among others—or develop new applications, methods, workflows or analyses.

Winning entries will demonstrably extend and increase the usefulness, openness and visibility of GBIF-mediated data for identified stakeholder groups. Each submission is expected to demonstrate advantages for at least three of the following groups: researchers, policymakers, educators, students and citizen scientists.

The winners will be announced at the 25th GBIF Governing Board meeting, in Kilkenny, Ireland, in October 2018.

Entry requirements

Individuals or teams interested in submitting may do so beginning on 9 May 2018 via the Ebbe Nielsen Challenge entry form (link to follow). The entry period for the 2018 Challenge will run from 9 May to 5 Sept 2018. Entries must be received by Wednesday, 5 September 2018, at 1600 GMT.

Entrants must ensure that their submissions are readily accessible through the Internet for the Challenge jury members and GBIF Secretariat staff. Provided that this condition is met, entrants are welcome to document and present their entries via any appropriate repository or website—GitHub, Dryad, FigShare, Open Science Framework, Jupyter Notebook, etc. Regardless of the format, entrants must also provide information/metadata about the entry, including its name, contributing team members, description, operating instructions, rationale, and source location.

By encouraging entrants to use tools that they are already familiar and comfortable with, we hope that anyone who submits can place the focus of his or her submission squarely on questions of what, why and how—what the submission is, why it matters to the GBIF community or communities it is intended to serve, and how it works—rather than where it must be posted.

What should I submit?

Entries are expected to range from tools—like websites, stand-alone or mobile applications, or outputs of analyses—to procedural improvements, including but not limited to data analysis or visualization, data workflows, uploading, or annotations. If the submission is the output of an analysis then the analysis must be repeatable, with the submission including sufficient detail for repetition.

The required fields in the entry form will include:

  • Submission name/title
  • Team member(s) names and affiliations
  • Abstract: short description, in English, of approximately 200 words
  • Accurate documentation of the submission
  • Intro video, screenshots and/or other visuals that demonstrate or describe the submission


The Challenge is open to individuals, teams of individuals, companies and their employees, and governmental agencies and their employees. Those participating in a team must select a lead representative who is designated to act on behalf of the team. This representative will act as the primary point of contact between the team and GBIF to assume all rights and responsibilities regarding the challenge. If a team entry is selected as a winning entry, GBIF will pay the full prize money to the representative. It is the responsibility of the representative to distribute the prize money to team members.

The Challenge is not open to:

  • Members of the GBIF Secretariat
  • Individuals currently under an external contract issued by the GBIF Secretariat
  • Members of the GBIF Science Committee
  • Heads of Delegation to GBIF

Deadline for submissions

Entrants must be received via the Challenge entry form by Wednesday, 5 September 2018, at 1600 GMT. The submission page will be starting on 9 May 2018.


A panel of expert judges from relevant scientific, informatics and technology domains will evaluate submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Openness and repeatability: Are the constituent elements of the submission, like code and content, freely available and transparent? Are they appropriately licensed?
  • Applicability: Does the submission have sufficient relevance and scope that the communities GBIF support can use or build it?
  • Novelty Has a significant portion of the submission been developed specifically for the challenge? Submissions based largely or entirely on previously published work are not deemed to be eligible entries.


The Ebbe Nielsen Challenge honours the memory of Dr Ebbe Schmidt Nielsen, an inspirational leader in the fields of biosystematics and biodiversity informatics and one of the principal founders of GBIF, who tragically died just before it came into being.


The 2018 Challenge is funded in part with the financial support of the Swedish Research Council.