Frequently Asked Questions

For Innovators

What's on offer for innovators?

What do we get if we are selected for Open Up 2020?

You can receive at least £50k and up to £100k as a prize grant at the start of the challenge, access to experts to accelerate your product development and adoption, involvement in a national digital awareness campaign to promote open banking use cases to consumers, and up to £200k as a prize grant if you are selected as a winner at the end of the programme.

How much money can we win?

If you are selected as one of the 12 to 15 Finalists you’ll receive a £50k prize grant. At that time you may also be one of the 3 Finalists awarded a further £50k each for alignment with certain financial inclusion and resilience goals of Open Up 2020. Finally, 3 to 4 Winners, chosen from the Finalists, will receive prize grants of £150k to £200k each.

When will we receive the money? Will we receive it all at once?

The 12 to 15 Finalists (including the 3 Finalists receiving £100k) will be paid their prize grants in November 2019 in full. The 3 to 4 Winners will receive their prize awards in July 2020 in full.

Do you take any equity?


Do you take any intellectual property?


Could you reclaim a prize grant under any circumstances?

We will require winners to enter into a formal agreement with Nesta to ensure the Development Grant is used for its intended purpose. We will reserve the right for Nesta to recover the grant in certain circumstances to be set out in such agreement, for example if it emerges you made misrepresentations in your application for Open Up 2020. However, our aim is to provide you with as much flexibility as possible about how you use your prize grant, whilst still ensuring it is used for purposes consistent with the aims of Open Up 2020.

What agreements will we need to sign?

When you make your application, you’ll be asked to confirm that you meet the Eligibility Criteria, comply with the Terms & Conditions, and have declared any Conflicts of Interest. If you are selected as a Finalist, you’ll be required to sign a Grant Agreement. If you are selected as a Winner, you’ll be required to sign a Prize Award Agreement.

Eligibility for innovators

Does our product or service need to be live in the market when we apply? Do we need to show evidence of strong user traction?

To be eligible for Open Up 2020, your product must be either already launched in the UK market, or on track to full public UK launch before 31 January 2020. ‘Pre-launch’, ‘closed Beta’ and other ‘testing’-stage products not on track to meet this deadline will not be considered. As for market traction, a track record of more users and faster user growth will be compelling evidence that your product is meeting a strong consumer need. If you don’t have many users yet, your application should make a detailed and compelling case for how your product will create substantial long-term value for people in the UK.

Do we need to use open banking data to apply?

We’re looking for products that help UK consumers with their finances by doing something new and useful with programmatically accessed digital bank account data and/or payments functionality. Whether or not you access the Open Banking Implementation Entity (“OBIE”) API endpoints directly, or indirectly by using the AISP or PISP capability of an authorised Technology Service Provider (“TSP’), if you’re not using open banking data then this challenge is not for you. You may be asked to provide evidence of usage of OBIE API endpoints and conformance to the OBIE Read/Write standards by the judges as a condition of acceptance onto Open Up 2020.

What if my company has a formal relationship with a CMA9 bank (for example, a CMA9 bank has invested in my company or we have an exclusive distribution deal)?

Since employees of CMA9 banks and their subsidiaries may not apply to, or participate in, Open Up 2020, if a funding bank has or acquires a majority or controlling interest in your company, you are ineligible for Open Up 2020. However, if a CMA9 bank has a minority investment in your company, or you intend to take a minority investment from a CMA9 bank, or you have a formal commercial partnership with a CMA9 bank such as an exclusive distribution deal, this will not render you ineligible per se for Open Up 2020. You must declare this relationship as a potential conflict of interest, and we recommend you explain in your application why the arrangement is consistent with your current and continuing independence from that bank. The judges will then make a decision on your eligibility.

Do we have to be a legally incorporated entity to apply?

Yes. We’re not accepting applications from teams or individuals operating outside of legally incorporated entities.

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

No. But you must demonstrate your commitment to serving UK consumers beyond the lifetime of Open Up 2020, and prize grants will only be paid into UK bank accounts.

Do we have to be UK citizens?


We’re not a startup, should we apply?

Yes. Applications from startups and more mature businesses are welcome, provided you meet the Eligibility Criteria.

We’re a challenger bank, can we still apply?

Yes, so long as you meet the Eligibility Criteria.

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

Yes but applications will only be accepted from organisations that are legally incorporated at the time of application and on track to full public launch by 31 January 2020.

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

You may submit more than one application, but each application must be for a clearly distinct product. The Judges will accept at most one of your products onto the prize.

We have entered (or are considering entering) our product or service into another competition; can we submit the same proposition to this competition?

Yes you can enter Open Up 2020 even if you have submitted your product or service to another competition. The other competition may have rules about you entering your idea in more than one competition, so we advise you check this before you enter Open Up 2020.

Process for innovators

How do we apply?

You’ll need to complete an application form to apply for Open Up 2020. We estimate the form will take your team about a day to complete. However, do leave yourself time to create a quality submission as this is the information that the judges will use to assess your application.

Will you undertake due diligence?

Yes. Our external partners will undertake financial health reviews, legal and regulatory reviews, and background checks. Their purpose is to identify any red flags that should be brought to the attention of the judges. The judges will have the final say.

Who will see the information we submit as part of our application?

Your application information may be shared on a confidential basis with carefully selected external partners tasked with assisting the judges in their assessment of the applications. The judges will have the final say. The judges will receive access to all information you submit as part of your application, advisory notes from our external assessment partners and any other relevant information surfaced during the background checks. For more details, see the Terms & Conditions. We will announce the names of the judges before the application window closes.

What happens if we submit a late application?

We will not accept late applications. You have until 23:59 London time on Wednesday 2 October 2019 to submit your completed application form.

How will you handle our data?

Our use of your data is set out in our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

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. All judges and external partners have contracts in place with Nesta which include confidentiality provisions.

I’ve spoken with the Open Up 2020 team about my entry. Will you pass on information to the judges?

The Judges will deliberate with full independence. They will primarily 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.

When will the 12 to 15 Finalists be announced?

Wednesday 6 November 2020.

How will the Winners be assessed and chosen in July 2020?

In April 2020 Finalists will be asked to complete some assessment interviews conducted by Nesta. We’ll provide more details about what this involves ahead of these interviews, but we’ll limit the demands on your time as far as possible. Then, Finalists will pitch to the judges in person in London in June 2020. We’ll provide more details about what this involves ahead of the pitches but again, we’ll limit the demands on your time as far as possible.

How much time do we need to give to Open Up 2020 if we’re accepted as a Finalist?

We don’t specify a minimum or maximum amount of time that teams should dedicate to Open Up 2020. You’ll certainly need to complete all your assessment interviews and participate in pitching day in order to be considered as a Winner. Over the course of Open Up 2020 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. If your team is based outside London, we’ll cover reasonable travel costs (pre-agreed with the Open Up 2020 team) for up to two team members travelling long distances.

What reporting requirements will there be if we’re accepted as a Finalist?

At three points over the course of the programme (December, April, and June) we will require Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) related to subjects such as user adoption, usage, and dropout rates. Your reported KPIs will be primarily used by Nesta Challenges, the Open Banking Implementation Entity, and the judges to monitor the effectiveness of Open Up 2020 and inform decision-making on prize grants. In addition, your KPIs may contribute to aggregate statistics about all Finalists, collated and shared publicly by Nesta Challenges, but these aggregate statistics will mask your individual KPIs. Note that if you access OBIE API functionality indirectly by using the AISP or PISP capability of an authorised Technology Service Provider (TSP), as a condition of acceptance onto Open Up 2020 you will be required to seek confirmation from your TSP that they will be capable of furnishing you with the appropriate KPIs to report to Nesta.

Who is Nesta Challenges and why are they running this?

Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. Explore Nesta Challenges’ past, current and future prizes here, including prizes happening right now that you could also be eligible for such as the Affordable Credit Challenge. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta. You can read more about Nesta on the About page of the Nesta website. Open Up 2020 follows directly on from the first Open Up Challenge, a prize fund which ran from 2016 to 2018 backing the next generation of fintech products and apps for UK small businesses.Read more about the background to Open Up 2020 on our Purpose page.

How is Open Up 2020 funded?

Open Up 2020 is run by Nesta Challenges and backed by the Open Banking Implementation Entity with funding from the nine largest banks in the UK (the CMA9), namely AIB Group UK (trading as First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland), Bank of Ireland (UK), Barclays Bank, HSBC Group (including First Direct and M&S), Lloyds Banking Group (including Bank of Scotland and Halifax), Nationwide Building Society, Northern Bank Limited (trading as Danske Bank), The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (including NatWest and Ulster Bank), and Santander UK.

What’s the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), also known as Open Banking Limited (OBL)?

OBIE is the delivery body responsible for developing the open banking API standards and frameworks. Open Up 2020 is not the same as OBIE/OBL but we are in regular communication.

Will Challenge participants be able to access a Data Sandbox, as was the case for the first Open Up Challenge?

Participants in the first Open Up Challenge, which took place in 2017 and 2018, were able to access anonymised business current account transaction data provided by five banks to support their product development. This data provision was mandated by the Competition & Markets Authority Retail Banking Market Investigation Order 2017.

Some banks have expressed an interest in providing similar data for personal current accounts, for use by participants in Open Up 2020. We are working with partners to investigate this opportunity and whether personal current account transaction data could be made available on a timescale consistent with Open Up 2020, but at this time we cannot confirm whether such data will be available to Challenge participants.