BT has launched a competition to find innovative new ideas from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) aimed at protecting the UK’s critical infrastructure and keeping public sector and business data secure.

BT SME Award 2017: Securing the Nation will give SMEs the chance to showcase their new technology and product ideas within three award categories: Cyber Security; Data collection, mining and analytics; and Digital Innovation. Whilst the competition is open to entries from any country, the winning entrants are specifically expected to demonstrate how their new ideas will address key challenges in securing data for businesses and public sector organisations in the UK.

The 2016 competition winners were Northern Ireland based cycling and data technology company See.Sense. Entrants can find more detail on the requirements for each category and submit their ideas at The closing date for entries is Friday 3rd March.

Shortlisted finalists will be invited to the BT Tower in London on the 4th of April to pitch their ideas to a “Dragons Den” style judging panel of experts spanning security, innovation, defence, and other public services. Amongst the panel will be CEO of BT Security, Mark Hughes; BT’s MD of Research & Innovation, Tim Whitley; Met Police Detective Superintendent, Caroline Barker; and Technical Director of the National Cyber Security Centre, Ian Levy.

There is a total prize pot of £30,000 (€34,000) across all three categories. The judges will award each category winner a cash prize of £10,000 (€11,600), plus six months’ flex membership at TechHub’s sold out London start-up space which includes access to the London and all global TechHub spaces, plus the opportunity to network with the community of members all working on technology products.

All three winners will have the opportunity to work with BT to explore technical and commercial partnerships to bring their solutions to market with BT.

The issue of cyber security is increasingly forming part of board level discussions at large companies because of the rapidly escalating and evolving nature of the threat. Recent research from BT and KPMG has revealed that 97 per cent of IT decision makers in large multinational corporations have experienced a cyber-attack, with half of them reporting an increase in the last two years. However, only a fifth of respondents are confident that their organisation is fully prepared against the threat of cyber-attacks. The latest BT Infinity Lab competition is aimed at developing new innovative ways of helping organisations of all sizes to address the threat.

Shay Walsh, Managing Director, BT Ireland, said: “Cyber security is a really important issue for public sector and businesses of all sizes. BT has developed world class capability through protecting its own and its customers’ networks and we recognise that some of the most innovative ideas often come from our diverse SME community. This initiative aims to provide a platform for these ideas, and an opportunity for SMEs to develop them into solutions that will tackle real world challenges, including the issue of modern slavery.”

Elizabeth Varley, co-founder & global CEO of TechHub, said: “This is the fourth year of TechHub’s partnership with BT to provide a boost to growing technology companies. We are proud to join BT in supporting those startups that could make a big impact to securing our world in the future.”

2016 winner Irene McAleese, Co-Founder and CMO of Northern Ireland based company See.Sense said: “Winning the 2016 Award was a game changer for our company. Not only was it a significant cash prize, the publicity was amazing and winning enhanced our credibility which helped us to secure further funding to grow our team and bring products to market faster.

“The commitment from BT exceeded all our expectations. We’ve enjoyed introductions to their influential network to help accelerate our growth and the London base that TecHub provided has been a magnificent help. We’ve now got four more projects underway and more in the pipeline. I would urge any local SME to enter this competition – it’s an exceptional opportunity not to be missed.”

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