The finals of the BT Infinity Lab Awards 2015, now in their fifth year, were held on the 26 March at the iconic BT Tower and are the culmination of a three month search. Supported by BT, the Cabinet Office and TechHub, one of Europe’s largest tech start-up communities, they attracted a record number of entries.
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are a crucial engine for growth in the UK they make up 99.9 per cent of the 4.5 million businesses in the UK. They also have a huge combined turnover and account for over 14 million private sector jobs.
However, despite this position of strength, SMEs have so often found it difficult to get government contracts. This has meant that the public has not always benefited from some of the best and most cost-effective ideas that SMEs are capable of delivering.
The BT Infinity Lab Awards 2015 go some way to address that, showcasing the breadth of capabilities of SMEs and the difference they can make to the UK public sector. Much has been made of the Government’s commitment to the SME agenda, developing a range of reforms to open up Government contracts to small businesses. Simplifying procurement processes and making them less bureaucratic so all businesses, no matter what their size, have a chance of success.
This year’s winner of BT Infinity Lab Award 2015, was babylon, convincing our judges that their integrated mobile healthcare service will absolutely change lives. Their app provides an end-to-end service, from helping people to diagnose a health condition to virtual consultations with top doctors, appointment booking and prescription delivery supported by secure access to clinical records.
The company’s owners walked away with the top prize which includes £15,000, six months support from BT to develop their app and six month’s membership of TechHub’s sold-out innovation space in the East End of London.
BT is committed to supporting SMEs. We have about 900,000 SME customers and 63% of our suppliers are SMEs. We have a stake in ensuring that small businesses are given the support and mentoring they need to grow and to be successful as public suppliers in their own right. We want to help SMEs to grow, and to encourage new innovators to step forward. That’s why the BT Infinity Lab SME Award is vital and reinforces our commitment to SMEs giving them the platform to showcase their capabilities.
On the judging panel, helping to identify SMEs with ideas that could change lives where Elizabeth Varley chief executive and co-founder of TechHub, Stephen Allott, crown representative for SMEs at the Cabinet Office and James Hall, Crown Representative, Cabinet Office.
Seven shortlisted finalists were invited to BT Tower in London where they presented their proposals to a panel of BT, Cabinet Office and TechHub industry experts.
Following their Dragon’s Den style pitch, the panel privately discussed all the finalists before choosing their top three.
Babylon was announced as the winner on the night and Educater and Fluency were the two runners-up each receiving £7,500.
This year’s awards have demonstrated that creativity and entrepreneurism are well and truly alive and kicking in the SME sector. We are delighted to be part of this year’s event and look forward to seeing how these ideas go on to change lives.
Picture: The winning SME, babylon, with Ian Dalton and Stephen Allott, Crown Representative for SMEs, Cabinet Office.