Market Ready Stage

Applications have now closed for Stage 1 (Innovation) of the Open Up Challenge. You can see our 20 winning teams here.

Applications for Stage 2 (Market Ready) will open in January 2018. You don’t need to have participated in Stage 1 to enter Stage 2.

Below is our preliminary guidance for Stage 2 applicants, but check back toward the end of 2017 for the full details, or contact to discuss.

Prize Fund – Stage 2

Stage 2 participants will get a development grant from a pot of £500k for up to five teams, plus a share of a £2m pot if they are one of the final three Stage 2 prize winners.

Key Dates – Stage 2


  • January 2018: Applications open (NB: Stage 2 will be open to new entrants as well as those who participated in Stage 1).
  • March 2018: Applications close.
  • April 2018: Entrant interviews in London*.
  • April 2018: Stage 2 development grant winners notified.
  • July – September 2018: Stage 2 finalists due diligence.
  • September 2018: Stage 2 demo days in London.
  • September 2018: Stage 2 prize awards made.

* Reasonable travel stipends will be provided to teams of up to two people travelling long distances.

Eligibility Criteria – Stage 2

What you plan to build

In 2018, we’ll be looking for entries that can provide game-changing benefits to UK small businesses.

All entries should plan to use open banking data accessed via APIs to achieve this.

In terms of functionality, all entries must also at a minimum facilitate intelligent, tailored comparison of all of the following categories of product: Business Current Accounts, standard tariff overdrafts and unsecured small business loan products up to a value of £25,000. Comparison should extend beyond cost to other factors that may matter to small businesses – for example customer service, product features and others.

We are not prescriptive about how entrants fulfil these criteria and welcome innovative approaches. Entrants may ensure their solutions facilitate comparison through demonstrating integration or partnerships with third party services.

We envisage that many entrants’ products will offer a wider range of services to small businesses than comparison alone.

Your team

Stage 2 of the Challenge will be open to companies, organisations, partnerships and non-profits. Entrants must be legally constituted to apply for Stage 2.

The Open Up Challenge is open to teams from anywhere in the world; however teams must be able to demonstrate that their solutions are designed to benefit the UK’s small businesses and proposed services should be suitable for launch within the UK market and its regulatory framework.

Assessment Criteria – Stage 2

We will release the full set of Stage 2 assessment criteria toward the end of 2017. Prize grants and awards will be determined by our independent judging panel.

Due Diligence and Conflicts of Interest

Due diligence

We will carry out due diligence (including background and media checks) on shortlisted entrants. Any associations or history which may threaten the integrity and reputation of the Challenge (such as criminal activity,an ongoing lawsuit or administrator’s investigation) must be declared to Nesta for consideration during the application process and may be considered grounds for exclusion from the Challenge.

Conflicts of interest

As part of the application process entrants must complete a conflicts of interest declaration to identify actual and potential conflicts of interest.

Potential sources of conflict include relationships (including financial relationships) with organisations or individuals involved in the funding or delivery of the Challenge. Investment from, investment in, or a significant commercial relationship with any of the following will need to be declared by applicants:

  • Nesta
  • Funding banks
  • Individuals and organisations involved in delivery of the Challenge
  • Prize Committee members
  • Judging panel members

Employees of the following groups may not apply to or participate in the Challenge:

  • Nesta employees
  • Employees of Challenge funding banks
  • Members of the Prize Committee or judging panel and their immediate families

Decision-making authority

Subject to the above Nesta will make the final decision as to whether actual or potential conflicts and information provided through due diligence constitute grounds for exclusion from the Challenge.

Terms & Conditions

A full set of Terms & Conditions will be released toward the end of 2017.