Winners named for first GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge

Belgian team takes top slot in inaugural innovation prize, while Hawaiian biologist earns second prize.

(Antananarivo, Madagascar) An expert jury has awarded first prize in the inaugural GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge to a Belgium-based trio known as Datafable for “GBIF dataset metrics”, a browser extension that provides at-a-glance insights about datasets available through Biologist Richard Pyle earned the second prize for, a web service that crosslinks identifiers linked to data objects in the biodiversity realm.

The recipients receiving first prize are Peter Desmet, Bart Aelterman and Nicolas Noé, whose entry earned the highest marks from among six finalists to capture the €20,000 prize. Noé, in Madagascar to participate in events surrounding GBIF’s 22nd governing board meeting, accepted the prize from Tanya Abrahamse, one of the Challenge jury members who is CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and represents her country on the governing board.

"The three of us started Datafable about a year ago, to work one day a week on projects that really interest us,” said Noé. “The GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge was our first collaboration, so this prize is an awesome encouragement to continue to do so!"

“The excellence of the winners’ submissions reflects the quality and creativity inspired by the challenge as a whole,” said Donald Hobern, GBIF executive secretary. “The revamped prize exceeded our expectations and offers a fitting legacy for Ebbe Nielsen. We’re eager to see the impact that this and future competitions can bring to—and from—biodiversity information’s communities.”

First prize winner: GBIF Dataset Metrics

Datafable describes its submission as a ‘proof of concept’ that visually enhances dataset pages on The open-source submission combines a module that calculates and stores key dataset metrics for all GBIF-mediated datasets and a free Google Chrome extension.

Once installed, the extension seamlessly informs users about the contents and relative fitness-for-use of any given dataset, by displaying the taxonomy and multimedia of a dataset, as well as stacked bar charts for aspects like geographic and taxonomic accuracy. These metrics can also serve publishers by highlighting areas in which they might improve their data. The team and GBIF developers expect to collaborate to incorporate features as part of

Second prize:

Hawai‘i-based biologist Richard Pyle won the €5,000 second prize for a tool that seeks to make sense of the myriad identification systems within the biodiversity community. uses simple web services to establish a registry of over 250 “Identifier Domains”, which issue identifiers to various classes of biodiversity objects. indexes and crosslinks these different identifiers, providing a flexible framework for establishing and clarifying the congruent, inclusive, or overlapping relationships between these digital biodiversity objects. In addition to its core web services, tools and documentation, already contains more than 1,000,000,000 identifiers,

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be awarded this prize,” said Pyle. “The basic idea of has been bouncing around inside my head for many years, but it was the announcement of the Ebbe Nielsen Challenge late last year that inspired me to develop BioGUID into a functional system. As it continues to grow and evolve, I see more and more ways that it can help us organize biodiversity information.”

Details on the competition for the next challenge will appear later in 2015, with the hope of generating another inspired set of innovations.