Make data-at-scale work harder to deliver innovative financing for a net-zero future

“Uncontrollable climate change and massive species loss are not dim and distant risks—we are witnessing the early warning signs today.”

Baroness Worthington, Advisory Board
PHOTO: Red Ice-White Ice, Chris Wainwright, Disko Bay, Greenland (not photoshopped)

Icebreaker One is helping to work out the data infrastructure needed to address climate change.

We aim to influence investment decisions of $3.6T/year to deliver net-zero or net-negative outcomes by 2030, unlocking a standards-based marketplace for environmental & financial data, and leveraged finance for innovation.

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What is Icebreaker One?

Missing information flows is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. Adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure.”

Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows

Icebreaker One is a global non-profit dedicated to make data-at-scale work harder to deliver innovative financing for a net-zero future. It is focussed on

  1. creating frameworks and open standards for robust and secure data sharing across environmental & financial data; 
  2. understanding the use-cases, business models, policies, processes, principles and practice that will unlock value at scale;
  3. developing & sharing expertise to provide knowledge and insight that will enable climate-specific interventions across the financial ecosystem.

We’re working to help everyone understand how to instrument change: where there is scope for material, transformational, rapid change—and how to implement it—that will help us all address the greatest challenges of our time.

“Sorting out our data infrastructure will enable us to use the wealth of data at our disposal to unlock the abundance of capital that is waiting to address our climate emergency”

Gavin Starks, Founder

Our 2020 priorities

In 2020 we will be designing and testing climate-ready financial products and helping take them to market with our Members. We are connecting policy, strategy, risk management and investment to real-world data to:

  1. Enable climate-ready financial instruments
  2. Enable climate-aware risk management
  3. Enable climate-credible deployment of robust, long-term solutions

Join us to bridge the data gaps between finance, policy and climate change.


SERI is a £1M Y2020 investment to develop an open standard for data sharing that will enable financial product innovation. Based on defining user-needs and funded by UKRI and Icebreaker One Members, it will create or evolve financial products for testing by Members before COP26. 

SERI has the potential to both transform the insurance industry and address the climate crisis via economic innovation. It will develop an open standard for data sharing in the insurance sector. On implementation, it will enable insurers to share data robustly, legally and securely, driving the use and adoption of artificial intelligence tools within the insurance sector. 

Following the UK’s world-first work on Open Banking (co-chaired by Gavin Starks), we will develop a standard for sharing data that will enable UK insurers to innovate around climate risk, improve current products and create new ones, and create both private and public good. 

SERI will:

  1. Identify and develop a data access method to enable AI applications for insurance
    The SERI consortium brings together all relevant stakeholders and users from insurers to scientists and policymakers, as well as data providers. Introducing an open standard to enable access to shared data — a standard that outlines the specific use-cases for data and its preemptive licensing conditions — will reduce the currently high transaction costs that prevent insurers from working with data at scale. SERI will create better ways for those in the insurance industry, as well as the wider financial sector, to share data robustly, legally and securely. 
  2. Address incentives, opportunities, and ongoing business models for enabling data access
    Through workshops and working groups, SERI will identify the business models made viable by an industry-wide open standard, and deep dive into specific use cases. Demonstrable benefits of innovation and investigation in this area include:
    • Catalyse data access and usage across the insurance sector at-scale
    • Addressing the business models, use cases, incentives, and opportunities 
    • Addressing culture change, IP, legal, privacy issues
    • Quantifying how open standards development can be exploited commercially
    • Assessment of the risks around data sharing
    • Addressing regulatory issues and constraints
    • How the reporting of impacts and benefits can be improved
    • Maintaining the UK as a global leader in insurance and financial innovation
  3. Examine the broader, non-technical aspects of data access models
    Recognising that data usage and sharing within the insurance industry requires collective action, SERI will focus on the cultural mechanics of data sharing. This will help insurers transition from legacy, closed-by-default models to a more federated model of data sharing and usage.

The problem

Our ability to join up and use existing and emerging data to address our environmental crises is currently stifled. 

The inhibitor is not technology but culture—organisations are stuck in legacy models that mandate that they hold everything ‘closed’ and negotiate potential uses of their data on a case-by-case basis. 

Asset owners, funders and insurers represent a complex value chain today. They are not working with data at-scale due to high transaction costs—this limits creativity in finding new models, products and market solutions.

We are holding back our own innovation: data is not discoverable, it is not clearly licenced for use, it is not in formats that people or machines can easily manipulate. 

We need better ways to share it, robustly, legally and securely to create value, rather than leaving it in increasingly stagnant data lakes.

The opportunity 

There is an ocean of available capital. The lack of good data-flow is leading to misallocation of resources, missed opportunities and is creating catastrophic risks on our global balance sheets.  

The opportunity is to transform the climate crisis into economic innovation that addresses the problem. 

With broader digital transformation now reaching maturity across industries, now is the time to build in the social usefulness of the data: SDGs (and climate change specifically) are the right narrative framing to deliver this.

If we solve for climate change, we will unlock solutions for other areas.

The how

Building multi-disciplinary partnerships, based on decades of experience with open standards,
data governance, mass collaboration, and public-private partnerships, Icebreaker One will unlock the exchange of decision-critical data to enable a multi-trillion dollar shift in investment. 

Icebreaker One will unlock private good: enabling businesses to make money, save money and reduce risk. Equally, it will unlock public good: enabling nations and regions to protect citizens, their environment and economies.

Icebreaker One aims to influence investment decisions of $3.6T/year to deliver net-zero or net-negative outcomes, unlocking a marketplace for data sharing through common principles and practice, and $50M/year in leveraged finance for innovation.

Join us today

Unlocking value from the web of environmental data through shared principles & practice

Our demand for, and needs from, data are growing. This is recognised and supported across the international 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, disaster risk reduction, and development finance.

At the same time, data is becoming more complex: there is more of it and more challenges as a result. Most of the technology solutions to process data exist today, but they are not always fit-for-purpose for use by the experts and communities who need them, or easy to integrate into human decision-making processes in a continuous, sustainable manner.

Open standards are increasingly required, and being used to solve these challenges. However, data—where
it does exist—is still not easy to find, use or share.

Icebreaker One is focussed on the cultural mechanics of data publishing and use: developing common principles and practice. It builds on existing work (e.g. in Geospatial, IoT), bringing together initiatives and organisations to demonstrate the investment case for development, and on specific interventions—such as data licensing—that require cross-sector action.

It will not focus on defining taxonomies, build new ‘data platforms’ or codify the data: there are already hundreds of such initiatives.

Ecosystem stack

This ‘ecosystem stack’ schematic highlights where we are focussing:

Icebreaker One will:

  • Rapidly and continuously convene the public and private sectors to understand their needs and identify associated blockers and opportunities. This will include in-person and online working groups, workshops, round-tables and networking events.
  • Explore, document and apply pragmatic business models with commercial partners.
  • Explore, document and apply pragmatic policy, regulatory, IP, legal and licensing frameworks that can encourage and support positive market behaviours.
  • Proactively initiate, incubate, accelerate and catalyse impact projects by bringing together ideas, experts and organisations to directly create joint funding bids that will benefit members.
  • Develop, document and publish shared principles and practice, values and standards that can be widely adopted, reused and repurposed to suit specific applications. 
  • Create and clearly communicate the outputs, outcomes and impacts of its work.

Join us today

What is the difference between open data and shared data?

The data spectrum defines open, shared and closed data around the question of data licensing. 

Open Data can be used by anyone, for any purpose, for free.

Shared Data can be licensed by a data owner for conditional usage by another party. Shared data is mostly in the private sector. Its users are also mostly in the private sector. Data licensing is done on a one-to-one contract basis and is often complex.

Closed Data is not shared outside of an organisation and may only be used by the legal owner.

Icebreaker One works to reduce transactional friction in the Shared Data space, creating common frameworks that enable discoverability and access, and enable micro-licensing, granular usage and smart contracts to create both public and private good.