PRESS RELEASE: FinTech North and Nesta, the innovation foundation, have announced that the recently launched ‘Open Up Challenge’ for FinTech entrepreneurs will be showcased during Leeds Digital Festival on 26th April 2017.

In February, Nesta launched the Open Up Challenge, 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. Over the next 18 months, the Open Up Challenge is looking for 20 winning entries from anywhere in the world that will use Open Banking Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to transform the way small businesses discover, access and use core financial products.

In addition to featuring on an open banking panel session at the FinTech North conference, a ‘discovery’ event has been planned at 1 Aire Street in Leeds on 29th March where FinTech and data science start-ups can find out more about the Open Up Challenge and mix with some of the regional FinTech innovators. Open banking aims to empower small businesses by enabling them to tap into the expertise of third party developers and data scientists through secure sharing of banking transaction data. This could equip small businesses with automation and insight tools previously only available to big businesses.

Chris Gorst, Challenge Prize Lead at Nesta, commented: “Open banking has the potential to transform small business banking, leading to a step change in innovation and offering busy entrepreneurs unprecedented transparency, convenience and control. The Open Up Challenge aims to make this a reality, by supporting tech businesses building next generation services centred around small businesses’ needs. As a key Fintech hub, we have come to the North of England to find some of these innovators.”

Applications are open from 23 March until 31 May 2017 and 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 containing the largest anonymised UK banking transaction dataset ever made available;
  • Fully funded technical and business support provided by leading practitioners, ranging from user experience to specialized legal and regulatory guidance.

The Open Up Challenge, which is managed by Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre, is part of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) package of retail banking reforms and aims to transform the way small businesses manage their finances.

Stefan Haase, Associate at Whitecap Consulting commented: “The Leeds City Region and further afield hosts many talented companies active in the finance and technology sectors. We are delighted that Nesta will present the challenge at FinTech North, which will help promote this great opportunity to new and aspiring FinTech companies in the region.”

FinTech North 2017 is organised by Leeds-based Whitecap Consulting, White Label Crowdfunding and FiNexus and will be hosted on the 26th April 2017 at aql in Leeds. The event will be chaired by Dr Christopher Sier, the Treasury’s FinTech Envoy for the North of England, and will feature a range of well-known keynote speakers discussing topics including innovation, alternative finance, big data and analytics, artificial intelligence, APIs and blockchain.

Other organisations to have pledged their support to the FinTech North conference include aqlComputershareBJSSFiNexusMunroe KLeeds City Region Enterprise PartnershipWest Yorkshire Combined AuthorityManchester Metropolitan University, VocaLink and Nostrum Group.

You can read more details about FinTech North here, or alternatively register here.

You can register here for the discovery event on 29th March.

For more information visit http://openup.challenges.org.