November 15, 2021

Data Science Competitions You Should Participate In

It's no secret that data professionals spend a lot of time studying theory and later practicing what they learned on their own. Because of the nature of the job, being able to demonstrate your ability to solve problems is crucial when hunting for a data science job. Data science competitions are one of the best ways to gain real-world experience, surpass your limitations, and discover new ideas.

Data science competitions also open up a new world of networking and employment opportunities, and they’re a great way to learn best practices. When you cooperate and compete with others to solve real-world problems, you get instant feedback on your work. At the end of a competition, you’ll have improved your data science skill set.

To make your life easier, we’ve compiled a list of our eight favorite competitions. Participation in these will help you develop your confidence, skills, and data science knowledge:

  • Kaggle
  • DrivenData
  • International Data Analysis Olympiad
  • Codalab
  • TopCoder
  • Iron Viz
  • Tianchi Big Data Competition


Kaggle offers some of the best data science competitions for beginners out there. Businesses often present some of their problems to Kaggle’s large community to try to find solutions. By participating in these exciting competitions, up-and-coming data scientists get to develop their skills while having fun learning and establishing new connections.

These competitions offer the opportunity to practice all kinds of techniques to solve data science problems. You’ll have the chance to make a difference by contributing worthwhile solutions to real challenges in areas like healthcare, finance, and national defense. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward. Some Kaggle competitions offer rewards of up to $1.5 million.


The data competitions provided by DrivenData typically last two to three months. They feature a global community of data scientists who compete to produce the best statistical model for difficult predictive problems. DrivenData has a two-fold mission: it aims to help data scientists get experience and learn new skills while also providing data science assistance for humanitarian causes. The competitions hosted by DrivenData enable data scientists to develop cutting-edge data science solutions and support to nonprofits, NGOs, governments, and other social impact organizations.

Those who compete in DrivenData’s competitions will benefit from real-world experience as they work for a greater cause. Once the data problem has been solved and the winners have been selected, DrivenData releases the winning code under an open source license. So even if you don’t get first place, you’ll still walk away with invaluable experience and access to useful code!

International Data Analysis Olympiad

This is an annual competition open to data science professionals of all experience levels. The IDAO is a team event focused on solving complex machine learning problems. Teams are made up of two to three team members. From beginner to advanced, anyone who wants to test their skills can enter this competition.

Every competition breaks down into two parts. The first part is online, and all teams compete to qualify for the second round. The second part includes only the top 30 performing teams from the first round, and it usually takes place offline at a specified location — normally the Yandex office in Moscow. Valuable prizes are usually awarded to winners.


Codalab is an open-source platform dedicated to facilitating computational research. Codalab users can participate in existing competitions or create their own. The majority of these competitions concern machine learning and data science problems, although they aren’t limited to these fields. Users may compete to provide solutions to any problem as long as they can deliver the solution in the form of a zip archive. The organizers’ scoring program then quantitatively evaluates the files.

Codalab competitions don't offer prestigious prizes or rewards. Instead, Codalabs is predominantly focused on facilitating collaborative research and code testing. The primary objective is for data scientists to work together. Codalab creates more effective data science solutions by developing more efficient and reproducible code. Signing up for a Codalab competition would be a great way to gain experience in programming and code-building through project collaboration.


TopCoder enlists the aid of top data science professionals to help businesses of all sizes solve complex data problems quickly and effectively. Participants can earn rewards and compete against some of the greatest data scientists in the world.

TopCoder offers a broad selection of competitions focused on data science, coding, and web design. Their greatest attraction is the annual TopCoder Open, which has been called the “Ultimate Programming and Design Tournament.” This single event includes numerous competitions across various data-related fields. The competitions begin online, but the top performers can earn additional prizes and a trip to the TCO finals in the United States.

Another great thing about TopCoder is that, in addition to their larger events, they also have smaller regional events to help even more people gain access to the competitions.

Iron Viz

Iron Viz is the world's largest data visualization competition, hosted by one of the leading names in the industry: Tableau. The competition involves a one-month-long qualification round followed by a championship round between the three top finalists. The finalists compete in a 20-minute lightning round in a packed arena hosted by the Tableau Conference. They can win thousands of dollars in cash prizes. The excitement makes the Iron Viz championship one of the most highly anticipated data events every year.

When you sign up for Iron Viz, you’ll join hundreds of data visualization experts from around the world. The benefits of Iron Viz go far beyond just the lucky winners. Even if you aren’t one of the three finalists, you’ll put your skills to the test and learn from the best of the best in data visualization. We all know learning is its own reward!

Tianchi Big Data Competitions

Tianchi is a global community of data scientists that host Big Data competitions spanning a variety of industries and skill levels. Tianchi’s objective is to encourage competitors to create real-world solutions through the application of data science and distributed computing. You'll compete against some of the world's elite AI proponents. Cash pools can be as large as $1 million.

Tianchi competitions concern big data, AI operations, machine learning, object detection, and other closely related data domains. A special focus is on consumer behavior and predictive analysis for e-commerce. They have dozens of competitions to choose from — pick one that’s right for you!

Getting real-world data science experience is indispensable for a career in data science. Competing is one of the best ways to get that experience! Along with the enhanced knowledge you’ll receive, you’ll also develop a competitive data science portfolio. You’ll get your work in front of some data science leaders, and you might even win some prizes along the way!

The complex challenges you’ll overcome, and the friendly spirit of competition, will help you push yourself beyond your limits. Competitions also give you the chance to expand your data skill set. If it’s been a while since you’ve participated in a competition, or if you’ve never competed before, we recommend you take a risk and sign up for one.


About the author


Dataquest teaches through challenging exercises and projects instead of video lectures. It's the most effective way to learn the skills you need to build your data career.