How does it work?

How much time will we need to commit to the Open Up Challenge?

This is what happens during the challenge. Outside of the application process, we don’t specify a minimum or maximum amount of time that teams should dedicate to the challenge, but judges will be looking for evidence of your commitment to the challenge and your product idea.

Over the course of the challenge there will be the occasional mandatory event, but most will be optional. We hope you will do your best to attend because you’ll find them useful. We appreciate that sometimes this may be more difficult for non-UK based teams.

How can we get funding?

See here for how to apply.

Do we get to keep the money if we stop working on our idea during the prize or our company goes bust?

The development grants will be paid in two parts. The second instalment will not be paid if you have stopped working on the challenge.

No payments will be made to businesses subject to insolvency procedures. Judges will consider the financial health of applicants in deciding whether to accept them on to the challenge.

We reserve the right to recover development grants and prize awards in certain circumstances.

Do we get all the money at once?

Development Grants will be in two parts, the second mid-way through the relevant Stage. Prize awards are distributed in one lump sum.

Where’s the data in the Data Sandbox coming from?

The Competition and Markets Authority has asked five of the largest UK banks to provide data for the Sandbox. The Sandbox is being designed and delivered by our technology partner Capco, who have considerable experience in architecting, building and deploying open API platforms, employing agile development, and industry best practice architecture, security and testing capabilities. All data will be anonymized such that no customers are identifiable.

What will we need to sign up to in order to access the Sandbox?

In order to participate in the challenge, you will be required to sign a Licensing Agreement including terms covering confidentiality, data acquisition, usage, destruction and security and technology standards which must be adhered to.

Is the cash we receive in return for equity/is it a loan/what are the terms?

It’s a cash prize with few strings. Terms and Conditions will be made available when Stage 1 applications open (23 March 2017).

When will the application form be online?

23 March 2017 for Stage 1.

How much do you award?

See the prize structure here.

Do we need to write a business plan?

Not in Stage 1, it’s a simple application form which will be released on 23 March 2017. Here is what we can share now on how to apply.

Will you sign an NDA? How do we know you won’t steal our idea?

Nesta will not sign an NDA and we will not steal your idea. Everyone who will have access to confidential information about you (including judges) are subject to confidentiality rules.

Who will own the IP?

You will own all the IP you bring to or create as part of the challenge.

Our group has two ideas. Can we submit two applications?

You can submit as many applications as you want. One application per product idea (though a product may incorporate more than one service).

Will you fund multiple teams working on the same idea?

Yes, but development grants and prize awards are made per product idea, with one application per product idea.

What happens if I submit a late application?

We will not accept late applications.

Should we apply?

We’re not a start-up, should we apply?

Yes. There is no criterion for the stage of development of applicants’ businesses

We’ve been working on our idea for a long time. Is the Open Up Challenge appropriate for us?

Yes. We’re looking for commitment that you take this space seriously, so that should be a bonus. See here for our assessment criteria.

We’re a challenger bank? Can we still apply?

Yes, so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

We’ve been backed by one of the banks funding the challenge. Can we still apply?

You will need to declare this to ensure this doesn’t create significant conflicts of interest. See our eligibility criteria.

Can a single person apply for funding?

Yes but read our section on what we look for in teams and their track-record.

I have a great idea for a start-up, but no experience. Will you still fund me?

Yes, but look at what we look for in teams and their track-record.

Can we create a new team specifically to enter the challenge?

Yes, but look at what we look for in teams and their track-record.

I have entered my idea into another competition; can I submit the same idea to this competition?

Yes you can enter your idea even if you have submitted it to another competition. Please make sure you provide relevant and specific answers to the entry questions for this competition.

The other competition may have rules about you entering your idea in more than one competition. Please check this before you enter this competition.

Can I participate in another programme (e.g. a tech accelerator) at the same time as the challenge?

In principle yes, but judges will be looking for your commitment to the challenge. You will need to declare if you intend to participate in another programme at the same time.


We are not based in the UK. Will we need to travel to the UK?

You’ll need to be in the UK for pitching to Judges on 7 December 2017 and we expect at a couple of points during Stage 2. We have travel stipends for two people per team to come to London to pitch.

Do we have to start a company in the UK to be eligible for the cash?


Do we have to be UK citizens?


Can you get us visas?

We’re sorry but we cannot help with visas.

Do we get access to office space?


Who’s behind this?

What is Nesta and why are they running this?

Nesta is a global innovation foundation. This is why we are doing the prize.

Are the banks involved?

The Open Up Challenge is run independently by the Nesta Centre for Challenge Prizes, with backing from the CMA and funding from 8 of the UK’s largest providers of SME banking – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander, AIB Group (UK) p.l.c, Bank of Ireland UK and Danske Bank. For more information, see Section 10 of the CMA’s Retail Banking Market Investigation Order 2017.

This all seems to rely on Open Banking happening. Is that guaranteed?

We’re not implementing open banking itself, but we believe it’s safe to say this is happening.

What’s ‘Open Banking Ltd’ / the ‘Implementation Entity’?

Open Banking Ltd (formerly the Implementation Entity) is the delivery body responsible for developing the open banking API standards and frameworks. Its work will be led by a Steering Group and informed by Advisory Groups. There are opportunities to get involved in the Advisory Groups if you wish to. A full website will be launched soon. In the meantime, see the bottom section (‘About the implementation entity’) of this press release. The Open Up Challenge is not the same as Open Banking Ltd, but we are in regular communication and will so far as possible align our Data Sandbox with the work being done by the entity ahead of 2018.