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Manchester businesses urged to compete in BT and Cabinet Office search for small companies with big tech ideas

BT has launched a competition for small and medium businesses in partnership with the Cabinet Office and TechHub to find the latest innovations to boost digital public services, defence and retail.

The partners are on the hunt for local businesses with expertise in machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. Focusing on the theme of ‘Augmented Intelligence,’ they want to see ideas that harness both the data processing powers of technology and the expertise of human manpower.

The UK-wide initiative is the latest in a series of BT Infinity Lab competitions, with a £30,000 prize pot up for grabs for three winners. In addition to receiving £10,000, each of the winners will have six months to develop their idea with the support of industry experts and tech gurus from BT. They will also receive membership to TechHub’s global entrepreneur community, workspace and support programme.

To enter, Manchester businesses will need to submit a three minute video explaining why their solution could be the next big tech innovation to help transform public services, retail or defence. Entries close on 12 March 2018. The winners will be announced after a judging event at the iconic BT Tower on the 24 April 2018.

To find out more, visit: www.btplc.com/btinfinitylab/augmentedintelligence or join in the conversation on Twitter: #BTInfinityAwards

Simon Yellowley, regional director of BT’s public sector business in the North of England, said: “It would be great to see an ambitious local business benefit from the incubation on offer for the winners. The BT Infinity Lab competition is an incredible opportunity for Manchester businesses working at the cutting edge of digital innovation to take their big idea to the next level.”

The three categories in this year’s competition focus on the areas of defence, public services and retail. The judges are keen to see innovations that could help provide more insight to the military when planning an operation, humanitarian mission or disaster relief. They would also like to see how robotics could be used to make a retail experience more personalised, or improve a customers’ experience when they contact a public service.

This year’s judges include Simon Bourne, Co-Op chief information officer; General Sir Chris Deverell, Commander, Joint Forces Command Ministry of Defence; Alison Pritchard, chief operating officer for the Government Digital Service; and Elizabeth Varley, founder and chief executive of TechHub, as well as a range of executive public sector, retail and innovation experts from BT.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “We want the UK to be the best place to grow a digital business and this partnership will give our dynamic, up-and-coming innovators the opportunity to develop the technology of tomorrow.
“I look forward to seeing these ideas become reality and help improve our public services so everyone can benefit from the technological revolution as we build a Britain fit for the future.”

Colm O’Neill, managing director of BT business and public sector, said: “Last year, our research found that AI (artificial intelligence) had divided the opinions of IT decision makers over whether it would replace or create jobs.

“With that in mind, we launched this year’s Infinity Labs competition with the theme ‘Augmented Intelligence,’ as we believe that there’s still work to do to demonstrate that automated technologies and business processes can play to the strengths of both people and machines.

“I’m looking forward to seeing all the entrants to this year’s Infinity Labs competition and to working together on the innovations that we could see transform defence, public sector services and retail businesses in years to come.”

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