Nesta launches £5 million prize fund to help small businesses

Independent innovation foundation Nesta has launched a £5 million prize fund for fintech businesses to give them the opportunity to create digital services, apps and tools for small businesses.

The Open Up Challenge has now been launched and aims to provide fintech businesses with access to opportunities offered by open banking APIs, which will be available from early 2018.


Nesta is searching for 20 businesses that will use the new banking data to help transform the way in which 5 million small businesses in the UK access and use financial products, such as loans and overdrafts.

The challenge will consist of two stages, with the first being an innovation challenge that will welcome ideas to benefit small businesses, including ideas that are at an early stage.

The second stage will focus on entrants that are market-ready. For this stage, Nesta is welcoming start-ups, lone developers or established businesses from any country, with developed ideas and early-stage ideas being eligible.

Several major banks have contributed towards the prize money, including Lloyds Bank, Santander, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and three banks from Northern Ireland.

Applications for the challenge will open on 23rd March 2017, with the first phase of the competition closing on 31st May.


Nesta Open Up Challenge Prize Lead Chris Gorst commented: “Open Banking is potentially revolutionary for how banking looks and feels and works.”

He added: “The purpose of the prize is to stimulate innovations for small businesses in the UK using that opportunity.”

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