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BT launches startup and small business competition

Infinity Lab challenge should make people feel more connected

Business partnership tree puzzles

BT has launched a competition for small businesses and startups to develop solutions that will make its customers feel more connected to their friends, family and communities.

The telecoms company is encouraging would-be entrants to think outside of social networks and use smart devices combined with applications in a more efficient way.

The competition will be led by BT's Infinity Lab, which was set up to seek out innovation partners for the company's services. Entrants will have to present their idea in a Dragon's Den-like experience to a panel of BT product and technology executives, who will choose the winners.

"BT's voice, broadband, TV and mobile services connect millions of families. We're looking for new services that help families, friends and communities share experiences," David McDonald, director of broadband and bundles at BT, said.

"Examples could be connected devices for different age groups, family safety apps, the linking of digital presence with the real world environment, and location information and services. They could include new ways of supporting or sharing life at home and on the go, or ideas to make the web more accessible."

The winner of BT's competition will be mentored by the company and will become a member of the TechHub entrepreneur community for six months, in order to learn from other innovators in the UK. If the idea is good enough, it will be trialled in real life scenarios, BT said.

"We want to work with innovative companies and our customers through market trials," Will Pryke, head of the BT Infinity Lab, said. "We're looking for companies that have an early stage product and share our ambition to work with customers. The aim is to develop commercial partnerships for BT to use or sell these new services."

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