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Startup Weekly: Nesta’s £5m prize fund, Digital Catapult and Seedcamp’s VR cohort and much more

Startup Weekly

Here’s your weekly roundup of news about startup competitions, awards, co-working spaces, accelerators and any other exciting things happening in the UK tech sector.

Nesta’s £5m ‘Open Up Challenge’

Nesta is now accepting applications for its ‘Open Up Challenge’ from FinTech firms, developers, data scientists and digital entrepreneurs from all over the world.

The ‘Open Up Challenge’ is a new £5m prize fund to inspire the creation of next-generation services, apps and tools designed for the UK’s 5 million small businesses.

The Challenge is looking for 20 winning entries from anywhere in the world that will use the UK’s open banking APIs – newly available from early 2018 – to transform the way small businesses discover, access and use core financial products.

Entrants will have the potential to receive:

  • Cash awards – a £50k grant up-front each and a share of a further £3.5m if successful during the Challenge;
    Exclusive access to the Open Up Data Sandbox providing access to one of the largest anonymised UK banking transaction datasets ever made available;
    Fully funded technical and business support provided by leading practitioners, ranging from user experience to specialised legal and regulatory guidance.

Chris Gorst, challenge prize lead at Nesta, commented: “We are looking for entrants who can combine insight into the problems small businesses face with technological skill and commercial know-how. TheChallenge offers entrants a gateway to innovation through up-front grants and prizes from a £5m fund, business support from key influencers in the industry and exclusive access to our Open Up Data Sandbox to test and develop their ideas.

“The coming year marks a unique moment in which technology and regulatory change combine to drive innovation in small business banking. Entrants to the prize will have the opportunity to shake up small business banking by transforming the way small businesses discover, access and use core financial products and services,” he concluded.

For more information visit The application deadline is 31st May.

Digital Catapult and Seedcamp announce cohort

Digital Catapult and Seedcamp have today announced the six firms selected to take part in Augmentor, focused on supporting early stage UK tech startups working on immersive technologies.

Gravity Sketch, Immersive Rehab, Kinicho, Koski, Reality Zero One and VRTU will be joining the 10 week programme.

The companies will pitch and showcase their ideas to an audience of experts and investors on 23rd May at Digital Catapult.

Aurelien Simon, head of immersive at Digital Catapult, commented: “We have been impressed by the quality and number of applications which clearly reflects that the UK is at the forefront of Immersive Technologies.

“The six companies selected represent a brilliant range of capabilities in the virtual, augmented and mixed realities space. Their products and solutions will have a strong impact on our Industry globally. We are looking forward to working with them all to help progress their ideas in the areas of digital manufacturing, healthcare and the wider creative industries,” Simon added.

Augmentor Partners has partnered with HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, University College London, CAMERA at University of Bath, Bournemouth University, Realities Centre and Immerse UK.

Dave Haynes, from Seedcamp’s investment team, said: “Over 70 AR/VR startups expressed interest in Augmentor and it’s great to see such a strong pipeline of UK talent in the sector. The six companies selected are out to solve a diverse set of real world problems; from healthcare and industrial design to audio tools and retail. We can’t wait to see them develop and work closely with them throughout the course of Augmentor.”

To find out more about the programme, please visit:

Momentum London cohort

Momentum London, a new three month growth programme established to help later stage B2B and B2B2C startups build relationships with clients has announced its inaugural cohort.

The programme seeks to help startups address the challenges they face when looking to gain corporate clients during their scaling phase.

“After talking with hundreds of startups and large enterprise leaders, we’ve realised it’s difficult for startups to validate different market opportunities and decide where to focus. At Momentum we bring startups and large enterprises together with the aim to bridge this gap to ensure a stronger business ecosystem is in place,” explained programme director Ricardo Simard.

The startups joining its Spring 2017 cohort are:

Applied Blockchain – a full stack blockchain applications development and consulting firm.
Avvoka – a contract creation, workflow and analytics tool, transforming sales agreements in the cloud, enabling businesses to close deals in record time.
Avora – improves business’s focus on commercial excellence and reduces cost of data storage, hosting and reporting.
Device Pilot – provides live status dashboards, operational analytics and the ability to automatically remedy problems in live IoT device estates.
Digitteria – provides users and enterprises with personal information management solutions.
Divido – a platform for merchants, lenders and intermediaries that want to offer instant instalments as a payment option.
NuCypher – a security and encryption platform for organisation’s big data platforms, whether on-premise or in the cloud.
Sentisum – a technology startup which is leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to help enterprises gain competitive advantage.
Waymark Tech – offers a platform that breaks regulations down by turning the complex into prescriptive actions, leveraging the latest in natural language processing.
We Love Work – a hiring app that predicts culture fit and measures values alignment between individuals and teams.

The Spring cohort will conclude with a Demo Day on 8th June 2017. Applications for the Summer cohort will open in mid April for the fee only, zero equity programme.

Europe’s 25 Corporate Startup Stars of 2017

The hunt is on to find Europe’s 25 Corporate Startup Stars of 2017 with nominations opening this week.

The ranking, run by advisory firm Mind the Bridge and innovation foundation Nesta, will recognise Europe’s top “startup-friendly” corporates.

Nominations will be judged by an expert panel that is chaired by Sherry Coutu, author of The Scale-up Report and angel investor.

Nominations close on Wednesday 12th April 2017 with the 25 stars and final ranking revealed in Autumn.

2017 Digital Technology Awards

ScotlandIS, the trade body for Scotland’s digital technologies industry, has today unveiled the shortlist for this year’s Digital Technology Awards.

This year’s finalists include: Skyscanner and FreeAgent.

Polly Purvis CEO of ScotlandIS said: “We are a small country with outstanding capabilities reflected in the diversity, scale and sheer innovation of the companies on the shortlist.

“We’ve received entries from so many exciting companies who are growing, and developing new products and services in response to the opportunities created by the pace of change in the digital world, creating tough choices for the judges.

“The continued success of the industry is reflected in the awards, which highlight the wealth of opportunities available to those considering a career in this vibrant sector,” Purvis added.

There are 13 trophies up for grabs this year including: CEO of the Year, International Technology Star and the Transformational Innovation Through Data award.