Gavin Starks


Data is a foundational part of our economy, society and environment: we live in a data-enabled world. We also face vast societal challenges where, combined, machines and humans can work harder to help us make better decisions. This requires the coordination of multidisciplinary teams across private, public and third sectors.

I’ve spent over 20 years helping to make our data infrastructure useful to everyone: creating and leading for- and non-profit businesses, bringing together the web, finance, policy, data, science, the environment, art and media. This has led to the creation of dozens of companies, the employment of 100’s of people, and £100Ms in measurable impact (including $137M in four years at the ODI), and helping to stimulate $multi-billion markets* through the development of regulated instruments such as the Open Banking Standard.

Working together, we (Dgen) have tackled complex challenges ranging from climate change to government transparency; digital supply chains to open banking; open energy to data art. We’ve worked across scales, from multinational corporations to microscopic charities, bringing the same skills and passion to each. We help countries, markets and organisations design for our data-enabled, connected future.

Harnessing the power of people and machines (our ‘collective intelligence’), our Dgen Constellation projects include the internationalisation of Open Finance, national data strategies, and making data work harder to deliver net-zero via (which launched at Davos in 2020 and delivered over $5M in innovation funding in its first year of operation). We create positive impact@web-scale.

If you are interested in receiving ideas and notes of events, please subscribe to my personal newsletter.

* Open Banking Market Size to Reach $43.51 Billion by 2026 at 24.4% CAGR, and $123.7B by 2031

For speaking events, please see

Socials: LinkedIn: GavinStarks | Mastodon: @agentGav | Twitter: @agentGav 


click for large image:
CC-BY-SA Tiana Lea 

Short conference biog

Gavin has created over a dozen companies, employing 100’s of people, and delivering $100M’s in measurable impact. He co-chaired the development of the Open Banking Standard and was founding CEO of the Open Data Institute. He has mentored, chaired, or been a non-exec of over 40 organisations across diverse sectors. He currently runs to help accelerate our Net Zero Future and co-chairs the UK Smart Data Council, alongside Minister Hollinrake, shaping the future of data sharing across the country.


In 2019 Gavin was selected for a Longplayer Conversation at the British Library, introduced by Sophie Fiennes and Michael Morris, with Jem Finer, founder of Previous conversations included Sir David Attenborough, James Lovelock, Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno.

Background narrative

Gavin helps solve complex, multidisciplinary, collective-action challenges.  He has co-created over a dozen organisations: building multidisciplinary teams fit for a digital age to explore the impact of data on business, society and culture. He founded and now runs, making data work harder to deliver a Net Zero Future.

His work spans data infrastructure, policy, science, art, media, communications and innovation.

He was the Open Data Institute’s founding CEO, working with Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Under his leadership, it unlocked over $100M of direct economic impact, incubated over 50 companies, launched franchises across 20 countries, trained 10,000 people, recruited a world-class board and team, and delivered over $40M impact in under three years.

At the request of HM Treasury, he co-chaired the development of the Open Banking Standard, laying the foundations for regulation and catalysing international innovation. He served on the Data, Science and Evidence Advisory Board of the Ministry of Justice, the Smart London Board, as advisor to the Financial Conduct Authority (Open Finance); advisor to the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence; Guardian Council member at Yoti (digital identity); Trustee at Blue Ventures (marine conservation); Chairman at Demand Logic; Trustee at; Chairman at (blockchain); Non-exec at CupClub (circular-economy); Chairman at Rinse Media Group. He regularly provides strategic advice to governments, regulators and intergovernmental organisations around the world.

He has been creating businesses for over 25 years, leading projects with organisations such as ArupCap Gemini and the World Bank. This has led to recognition as one of the most influential people in data: winning awards for innovation, expertise, and providing Parliamentary Select Committee evidence. He is a regular international speaker on the topic of data, the web and their impact on society.

Previous ventures include: organising the world’s environmental data and standards into an open web-service, AMEE, raising over $10M from leading VCs (sold 2015); chairing development of the first Gold Standard Carbon Offset; building the world’s leading digital music distributor, CI, the first company to deliver digital products to iTunes, and sent Amazon 25% of its download store at launch (still operating); creating award-winning streaming media company, Tornado, in 1999 (sold 2003); joining Branson’s Virgin Net as employee #5 in 1995 to deliver Virgin Net (now Virgin Media).

At Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory, Gavin helped develop systems designed to map and interpret the universe. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, created courses and lectured in Engineering and Music at Glasgow University, and has degrees in Astronomy and Electronic Music (on which he has published research & released an album). He converted a century-old ship to live aboard and built a cooperative historic harbour on the Thames to put it on.

Commercial – active

  • founder, CEO, Icebreaker One
  • guardian — Yoti Guardian Council
  • chairman — Demand Logic, automating energy efficiency in buildings
  • founder — Dgen, a federated network of experts creating impact@web-scale
  • mentor — private individual entrepreneurs
  • regularly invited speaker at innovation, data, startup, web, and cleantech/environmental events and conferences
  • regularly invited mentor for startups and incubation programmes

Non-commercial – active

  • trustee — Blue Ventures
  • trustee — Longplayer Trust, helping to sustain a 1,000-year music performance
  • trustee — Cenfri, an independent African economic impact agency
  • co-founder, chair, member — Hermitage Community Moorings, the first official licensed residential harbour development on the Thames in the last century
  • regular speaker at arts, science, music and tech events

Speaking at TEDxEast in New York, 2010

For previous roles and academic background, please see page 2.