Meet the 12 finalists of Nesta's government-backed Open Up Challenge, jostling for a £2.5m prize fund

Emily Nicolle
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The UK's fintech hub is soaring
The UK's fintech hub is soaring (Source: Getty)

Backed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to shake up disruption, Nesta has announced the 12 finalists of its £2.5m fund for innovation in small business banking.

Building on the implementation of Open Banking and other initiatives like the Royal Bank of Scotland's remedies fund, the Open Up Challenge managed by Nesta includes five new entrants, as well as seven teams from the challenge's 2017 cohort.

The finalists will each receive a £100,000 grant, priority access to Open Banking data, and support to bring their products to market. A further five or six of the finalists will go on to win a further £200,000 by the end of the year.


Akoni uses business data to deliver personalised banking productions to SMEs, aiming to provide them with the same tools, services and products that larger corporates receive from traditional institutions. It has partnered with Coriolis Technology for its entry.


An automated assistant that takes care of day-to-day administration tasks for small businesses like invoicing and accounting, Bokio helps companies form better decisions for the future.


Bud is a financial network that connects banks, fintechs and customers together, helping traditional financial institutions ramp up their innovation through tech. It was also listed as one of Europe’s 50 hottest fintech startups in the 2017 Fintech50.


Capitalise helps accountants build a strong advisory service-line in their practice through technology and training, as well as a portfolio monitoring service.


Coconut is one of the latest entries into the digital banking space, offering a current account for freelancers and self-employed workers to keep track of expenses and automated accounting.

Credit Data Research

Active in five European countries, Credit Data Research provides credit scoring to SMEs and consumers through its Credit Passport platform.


Finpoint is a free-to-use business funding platform, combining hundreds of options online with impartial advice. It hopes to use the challenge to introduce new functionality to the platform, like an automatic eligibility checker based on Open Banking data.


Fluidly is an intelligent cashflow engine, plugging its machine learning technology into account packages and bank accounts to predict and optimise business finances. It was listed as one of Fintech50’s ‘Hot 10’ startups in 2018.

Funding Circle

Preparing to go public later this year on the London Stock Exchange, Funding Circle is a global peer-to-peer lending platform, matching small businesses with investors in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands.

Funding Options

Funding Options is a European online marketplace for business finance, each year raising more than £100m in finance for UK SMEs. It hopes to use Open Banking data to enable banks to deliver more personalised finance offers to SME customers.


Openwrks builds open-source tech to power Open Banking, with a toolkit that makes it easy for SMEs to share their data securely with businesses they trust.


Swoop speeds up access to business loans, grants and equity finance via a so-called one stop tech platform for small businesses. It analyses opportunities across the market to find the best finance options in seconds.

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