BT Invites SMEs to shape cities of the future

BT Infinity Lab competition launched with a £15,000 prize.


22 Feb 2016

BT has launched a competition to find innovative ideas from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that will help cities become more connected, efficient and sustainable. 

The BT Infinity Lab SME Awards 2016: Connected Cities will give SMEs a chance to showcase their big ideas for future digital products and services, in areas such as health and social care, transport and education, employment and skills and across the wider public sector. 

The BT awards are run in partnership with the Cabinet Office, MK Smart and TechHub. Entries will be judged in three categories: Smart City, Connected Society and the Internet of Things. The winning entrants will show how their ideas can help make a big difference to the cities of the future.

Entrants can submit their ideas to The closing date for entries is Friday 11 March.  

Shortlisted finalists will be invited to the BT Tower in London on Tuesday 26 April to pitch their ideas to a “Dragons Den” style panel of connected cities experts from BT, the Cabinet Office, the Department of Health, the Department for Transport, Milton Keynes Council and TechHub.  

There is a total prize pot of £30,000. The judges will award each category winner a cash prize of £7,500.  The overall winner will pick up an additional prize of a £7,500 plus six months' membership at TechHub. In addition, the Smart City winner will have the opportunity to work with Milton Keynes Council to turn their idea reality, whilst the Connected Society and Internet of Things winners will each receive six months of support from BT to help them develop their ideas.

Matt Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said: “We are recasting the relationship between the citizen and the state, making public services simpler, clearer and faster and taking advantage of state-of-the-art digital technologies. To get this right we need to draw on the expertise of digital innovators from all over the country, and especially small businesses which we know to be some of the most innovative in the marketplace. 

“We've made it easier than ever for small businesses to win government work, but we know that there is more to do to encourage growth in the sector. That's why I'm excited that we're working with BT to give digital innovators the leg up they need to grow and develop their ideas.”

Ian Dalton, president, Global Government and Health, BT Global Services, said: “This initiative aims to foster innovation and give SMEs the help they need to turn their great ideas into reality. We’re committed to nurturing small businesses and extending their reach into public sector organisations. I’m looking forward to seeing the entries, exploring the ideas SMEs have and using our huge technical and public sector expertise to help them play their part in creating connected cities.”

Elizabeth Varley, co-founder & global CEO of TechHub, said: “The way we'll be living in the very near future depends on the new ideas of entrepreneurs. The best part of what I do is being amazed and delighted by concepts I've never seen before, right at the early stage. Scaling these innovations is the challenge, and working with TechHub and established organisations like BT gives startups a real leg up."

Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy at Milton Keynes Council, said: “Milton Keynes has established a leading smart city programme that aims to foster business innovation and growth so we’re very pleased to be working with BT on this great initiative and are looking forward to helping make the great ideas the competing SMEs have come to life in our city.”

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