BT and TechHub today launched a competition to find innovative SMEs that have the potential to revolutionise how government engages with the UK public.

The Digital Innovation for the Public Sector award, being run by BT Infinity Lab, is aiming to find SMEs that can make government departments more efficient by moving services online, improving how government interacts with citizens or creating new products/services. 

BT Tower ©Flickr Taro Taylor
BT Tower ©Flickr Taro Taylor

BT said ideas around education, health and defence will be considered, as will ideas more suitable for other government departments. 

“This initiative will showcase the breadth of capabilities of SMEs to the UK public sector,” said BT Services president of global government and health, Ian Dalton. 

“BT has around 900,000 SMEs as customers, 63 per cent of our suppliers in the UK are SMEs and they are at the heart of our open innovation model. We have a stake in ensuring that they are given the support and mentoring they need to grow and to be successful. 

“We are committed to nurturing small businesses, and helping them to turn great ideas into successful businesses. We recognise that the internet has created new possibilities – businesses have been started from a kitchen table with a great idea, a laptop and a broadband connection. Together we want to help these businesses to grow, and to encourage new innovators to come forward.”

The winner will receive £15,000, six months support from BT to develop their product or service and six months’ membership at TechHub. Two runners-up will each receive £7,500.

In terms of support from BT, a BT spokeswoman told Techworld that the telecoms giant will provide:

  • business mentoring on selling to a big company
  • marketing support via BT channels, promotional videos, etc…
  • workshops with BT technology teams to develop new use cases
  • product placement in BT Technology Showcases
  • an introduction to BT clients & partners

"We will offer something bespoke for the winner to ensure they maximise the opportunity," she added. 

Stephen Allott of the Crown Representatives, a group which aims to act as a focal point for those looking to supply to the public sector, said: “We have introduced a range of measures to open up government contracts to small businesses.

“SMEs in the tech sector have been particularly innovative in seizing the opportunities presented by our reforms and this initiative supports our work in this area.”

The competition closes on 22 February. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to the BT Tower in London to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges from BT, Cabinet Office and TechHub.