The inaugural GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge aims to inspire scientists, informaticians, data modelers, cartographers and other experts to create innovative applications of open-access biodiversity data.


For the past 12 years, GBIF has awarded the Ebbe Nielsen Prize to recognize outstanding contributions to biodiversity informatics while honouring the legacy of Ebbe Nielsen, one of the principal founders of GBIF, who tragically died just before it came into being.

The Science Committee, working with the Secretariat, has revamped the award for 2015 as the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge. This open incentive competition seeks to encourage innovative uses of the more than half a billion species occurrence records mobilized through GBIF’s international network. These creative applications of GBIF-mediated data may come in a wide variety of forms and formats—new analytical research, richer policy-relevant visualizations, web and mobile applications, improvements to processes around data digitization, quality and access, or something else entirely. Judges will evaulate submissions on their innovation, functionality and applicability. 

As a simple point of departure, participants may wish to review the visual analyses of trends in mobilizing species occurrence data at global and national scales recently unveiled on Challenge submissions may build on such creations and propose uses or extensions that make GBIF-mediated data even more useful to researchers, policymakers, educators, students and citizens alike.

A jury composed of experts from the biodiversity informatics community will judge the Round One entries collected through this ChallengePost website on their innovation, functionality and applicability, before selecting three to six finalists to compete for a €20,000 First Prize later in 2015.


The Challenge is open to individuals, teams of individuals, companies and their employees, and governmental agencies and their employees. If participating in a team, the team must select one representative under whose name it will participate. The representative shall act on behalf of the team 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.

Unless otherwise stated in the award description, this competition is open to everyone over the age of 18. Entries from individuals under the age of 18 require a letter of approval from a parent or guardian to be provided as part of the entry.

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


Participants must create a submission that includes the following components.


The Submission must be accompanied by a short description in English of approximately 200 words.

Submission types

The submission can be anything that provides new representations or insights using GBIF-mediated data. This could likely involve a range of results: websites, stand-alone or mobile applications, or outputs of analyses. Likewise, the submission could seek to improve any number of issues or processes, including (but not limited to) data analysis or visualization, data workflows, uploading, or annotations. The judges must be able to access the submission at no cost or perform the same analysis/visualization using comparable alternative sources of data.

If the submission is a stand-alone application then it must operate on hardware readily available to the judges.

If the submission is a mobile app then the submission must enable the judges to access the solution, either by making it publicly available in an app store, by sending the .apk file (Android), or making it available using TestFlight (iOS)

If the submission is the output of an analysis then the analysis must be repeatable, with the submission including sufficient detail for repetition.

Video or screenshots

All submissions should be accompanied either by a video that demonstrates the submission, or screenshots of the submission. If the video is uploaded to an external site such as YouTube or Vimeo, then the submission must include a link to that video. A package of screenshots should be made available for the judges through a zip archive posted on Dropbox, OneDrive, or some other cloud-based file-sharing service.

Hackathon Sponsors


6,000 in prizes

Finalists (6)

On 12 April 2015, six entries from Round One will be selected as Round Two finalists, with each receiving a €1,000 award.

Overall first- and second-place winners will be chosen from the Round Two finalists and announced at the GBIF governing board meeting in Madagascar in early October 2015. Winners will receive €20,000 and €5,000, respectively

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

  • Register for the GBIF Ebbe Nielsen Challenge at by clicking the “Register” button. To complete registration, sign up to create a ChallengePost account, or log in with an existing ChallengePost account. There is no charge for creating a ChallengePost account. This will enable you to receive important updates and access the “Enter a Submission” page. All team members must also create a ChallengePost account in order to be added to a Submission.
  • Visit the Challenge Data page at to access information about GBIF-mediated data, GBIF web services, and potential sources of inspiration. 
  • Make significant use of GBIF-mediated data in a way that provides new representations or insights. Your submission could involve a range of results—websites, stand-alone or mobile applications, or outputs of analyses—or could seek to improve any number of issues or processes, including (but not limited to) data analysis or visualization, data workflows, uploading, or annotations.
  • Create a video or screenshots that clearly explains the insights gathered from the data as well as the process and method that was used in order to reach that insight.
  • Complete and enter all of the required fields on the “Enter a Submission” page of the Challenge Website (each a “Submission”) by the end of the Challenge Submission Period—that is, by Monday, 2 March 2015 at 12 noon CET.


Roderic Page

Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy / University of Glasgow

Tanya Abrahamse

Tanya Abrahamse
CEO / SANBI: South African National Biodiversity Institute

Arturo H. Ariño

Arturo H. Ariño
Professor of Ecology / University of Navarra

Lucas Joppa

Lucas Joppa
Scientist, Computational Ecology and Environmental Sciences Group / Microsoft Research

Mary Klein

Mary Klein
President & CEO / NatureServe

Judging Criteria

  • Innovation
    How novel is the submission? A significant portion of the submission should be developed for the challenge. A submission based largely (or entirely) on work published or developed prior to the challenge start date will not be eligible for submission.
  • Functionality
    Does the submission work and show or do something useful?
  • Applicability
    Can the GBIF and biodiversity informatics communities use and/or build on the submission?

Tell your friends

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.