Small Businesses and start-ups in the UK will now have their opportunity to pitch ‘Dragon’s Den’ style to BT in a competition, the winners of which could receive expert mentoring as well as seeing their ideas rolled out to BT customers in the UK.
BT say that the object of the competition, run by their Infinity Lab, is intended to find innovations that will “help busy people stay in contact and feel connected to their family, friends and communities”. BT has suggested to potential entrants that the focus for ideas should be very much upon smart devices and apps, i.e. something that can be used on the move.
Which Companies Can Enter?
The competition is open to small businesses and start-ups and essentially BT are looking for companies with an early stage product which has innovation at its heart.
What Are The Prizes?
Winners of the competition (of which there could be several) can ultimately expect a commercial partnership for BT to use or sell their new services to its customers. BT has said that this would still involve a (six month) trial first with its TechHub community. BT has stated that winners of the competition can expect to receive:
- Mentoring in the form of support from BT research, engineering, commercial and marketing teams, with a view to helping to develop the product or service.
- Support from BT to evaluate and trial the product or service.
- Six months’ membership of BT’s TechHub entrepreneur community. This will come with flexible desk space at its main London office and access to events.
How Do You Apply?
Applicants will need to complete an online form to describe their product or service and should also provide a short video about the product or service. BT has said that the video is optional but is ‘strongly advised’.
The submissions will then be reviewed by a team of our product and technology experts, and the shortlisted companies will be called for interview with finalists to present a “Dragons’ Den” style pitch of their idea to BT executives at an event in January 2017. Potential applicants should visit https://www.btplc.com/btinfinitylab/FriendsFamily/index.htm. The closing date for applications is 10th December 2016.
This is the 10th such innovation challenge competition in the last 3 years run by BT’s Infinity Lab and although the programme aims to identify potential innovation partners, BT does not intend to invest or take equity in the applicant companies as part of this process. The previous nine competitions (launched in partnership with TechHub) are reported to have attracted entries from around the world and winning success stories include ‘SeenIt’ who are now working with BT Sport, and the connected cities winner ‘See.Sense’ which is now in trial with MK Smart.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For BT, this is clearly a relatively easy and cost effective way to find product and service ideas that could be lucrative in the future, enable them to keep a competitive edge, and help retain and attract customers. For your business, this could be a real and rare opportunity to bring your idea quickly through development to a large existing nationwide customer base with the help and support of a leading company.