How does the funding work?

How much funding is available?

In the Innovation Stage you’ll get a £50k development grant up-front, and then share in a £1m reward pot if you’re one of up to ten successful Stage 1 prize winners.

If you successfully enter the Market Ready Stage you’ll get a development grant from a pot of £500k for up to five teams, plus a share of a £2m pot if you are one of the final three Stage 2 prize winners.

Do we get all the money at once?

The Stage 1 (2017) development grant will be distributed in two parts (July and then mid-way through the Stage). The second instalment will not be paid if you have stopped working on the Challenge.

The Stage 1 (2017) prize awards will be made in December and will be distributed in one lump sum.

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.

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

It’s all equity-free cash.

How does the Sandbox work?

What data is in the Sandbox?

Everything we’re able to release at this point about the Open Up Data Sandbox, including the data model and functional and technical views, is available here.

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

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has asked five of the largest UK banks to provide data for the Sandbox. All data will be anonymized such that no customers are identifiable.

Who’s building 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.

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. You can find out more here.

Will the Sandbox APIs be the same as the official open banking APIs?

Through our relationship with Open Banking Limited, the body responsible for building the 2018 APIs and standards, the Open Up Data Sandbox is aligned, as far as possible, with:

  • the APIs and standards that will go live from 2018; and
  • the data that UK banks will be required to make available from 2018 through open banking APIs (our Sandbox contains real-world, anonymised banking transaction data provided by five of the UK’s largest providers of SME banking).

If you’re accepted onto the Challenge, you’ll be kept updated throughout about the alignment between our Sandbox APIs and Open Banking Limited’s progress.

On 27 April 2017, Open Banking Limited and the Financial Conduct Authority joined the Open Up Challenge and Capco to discuss the progress toward the 2018 open banking API deadline and alignment with the Open Up Data Sandbox. You can see the slides from that presentation here.

Should we apply?

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.

My idea doesn’t compare Business Current Accounts, standard tariff overdrafts and unsecured small business loan products up to a value of £25,000. Can I still apply?

Entrants can fulfill this criteria through integrations with third parties, or directly through their product. You only need to cover one of these products during Stage 1 (2017) of the Challenge. We’re open minded how ‘comparison’ can be enabled. Before ruling yourself out, talk to us. Ultimately we’re interested in propositions that will use open banking APIs to create value for UK small businesses. See our assessment criteria for more details.

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

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

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 we create a new team specifically to enter the challenge?

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

Our team 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.

Can a single person apply for funding?

Yes, but still check out our section on what we look for in teams and their track-record, as this will apply to you as an individual.

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

Yes, but still check out what we look for in teams and their track-record, as this will apply to you as an individual.

I have entered (or am considering entering) 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 the Challenge. The other competition may have rules about you entering your idea in more than one competition. Please check this before you enter this competition.


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?


How do we apply?

Where’s the application form?

Legally constituted organisations apply here, and teams/individuals that aren’t legally constituted apply here.

Do we need to write a business plan?

Not in Stage 1, it’s a simple application form (see above for the links).

What’s F6S?

We are using F6S as our application platform, so you and your organisation will need F6S profiles to access the form. F6S is a semi-public platform for companies and founders, but we can keep your profiles invisible (so no-one else can discover the profiles through the platform). F6S is used by many funding competitions to handle applications.

What’s the quickest way to get set up on F6S?

Contact Harry Atkinson and he’ll get you set up straight away. The best way to get him is via webchat or email. If you’re comfortable using F6S, go ahead. But if you find yourself spending more than a few minutes working out how to get set up, do get in touch.

I tried setting up an F6S profile, but it’s saying my organisation is already registered.

A colleague will have registered your organisation on F6S at some point in the past. No worries. We can create a new (invisible) profile for your team or organisation solely for the purpose of applying to the Open Up Challenge.

Does my application auto save as I complete the form

Yes, the form autosaves (there’s no ‘save’ button to click), but you may want to draft offline and paste your answers into the form once you’re finished.

Can I edit my form after clicking ‘submit’?

Yes, but you’ll need us to re-open the form for you. Before submitting your form, we suggest you contact the team (see details at the bottom of this bulletin) notifying us that you have completed your form. We’ll do our best to give you some quick feedback (due to the volume of applications, we can’t guarantee extensive feedback).

I’ve spoken with the Open Up Challenge team about my entry. Will you pass on information to the Judges?

Judges will assess your entry based on your completed application form. Don’t assume that anything you’ve told us will make it to the Judges. Include all your strongest points in your application form.

What’s F6S Alpha?

We’re pleased to say that our 20 winning entrants will be invited to join F6S Alpha, an invitation-only benefits card providing access to free travel, services and VIP tickets.

What happens if I submit a late application?

We will not accept late applications.

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 (that job belongs to Open Banking Limited), but we believe it’s safe to say this is happening.

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

Open Banking Limited (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.

Confidentiality policy

How will you handle my data?

Check our Privacy Policy and T&Cs.

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.