The beta phase Sandbox application and assessment process will be fair and transparent. We will evaluate each submission against the following criteria:

  • How innovative is the product or service?

    “Innovation is the application of new knowledge to the production of goods and services; it means improved product quality and enhanced process effectiveness.”

    Although we recognise that a proposed product or service may be achieving an existing goal, we will consider applications where new knowledge is being applied to improve the effectiveness of an existing product or a service.
  • Will the product or service provide a potential demonstrable benefit to the public?

    We will assess this in terms of both breadth (the amount of people benefiting) and/or depth (the extent to which they benefit), drawn from both qualitative and quantitative evidence provided by the organisation.

Only applications that score a ‘1’ in either of the above criteria, will be automatically declined.

We will then consider:

  • Does the development address any of the key areas of challenge to innovation?

    This is outlined within ‘Which organisations can apply to the Sandbox?’.

    We will also ask you why you consider that your organisation requires the Sandbox to assist in developing your proposed product or service. We are open to developments that raise other challenges we may not have considered.
  • Has the organisation been involved in any recent data protection incidents, including Enforcement action?

    Although we will take these into account, you may still be accepted into the Sandbox. We will consider the relevance and severity of any such action and how it relates to your product or service. We encourage applicants to be honest and transparent in their response.
  • Can the ICO meet the resource and capabilities required?

    We will not commit ourselves to collaborating in the development of a product or service which creates resource needs that we cannot feasibly meet.
  • How viable is the organisation’s proposed Sandbox plan?

    We will ask you to specify what mechanisms (assistance) you expect to need in the Sandbox. A condition of entry into the Sandbox is for each participant organisation to have an exit plan in place, in order to protect data subjects, should it be needed.

In addition, we will select participants by trying to ensure a variety of size, sector and types of organisation. This is to ensure the benefits of the beta phase are maximised.

During the application process a member of the Sandbox Team may contact you to ask for clarification or further evidence on any part of your application.

Frequently asked questions

What is meant by ‘public benefit’?

As a public authority, we consider it important that the organisations we work with in the Sandbox can demonstrate how the product or service may benefit the public.

We interpret this broadly to include any positive benefit to the public with no form of benefit being more valued than any other (e.g. health and wellbeing or financial). We also consider public benefit to cover business benefit in terms of ‘back-office’ solutions; however care needs to be taken to ensure that the ultimate benefit to the public is articulated (e.g. in efficiency savings).

In assessing public benefit we will consider the potential depth (the amount of benefit experienced) and breadth (the volume of people benefiting) of your product or service using the criteria indicators provided as a threshold alongside the other criteria and factors listed.

This will not be a mechanistic assessment and products or services do not need to display lots of breadth and depth. Making a significant difference to a small number of individuals will be considered just as valuable as making a small difference to a lot. Only products with no obvious breadth or depth of public benefit will not be considered.

We will ask you to provide qualitative and quantitative evidence within your application to demonstrate what potential public benefit you foresee your product/service having or contributing to.