Securing the nation


Securing the nation
The entry period is now closed.

We asked last year's winners for some advice for SMEs thinking of entering this year. Here's what they said - 2016 winners See.Sense and Vivacity

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We'll review each submission before inviting finalists from each category to attend the live pitch session at the BT Tower on the 4 April.

Good luck!



BT has teamed up with the Cabinet Office and TechHub to find small companies with big ideas that can help tackle the nation's security challenges. Securing the Nation is the latest in a series of competitions aimed at supporting the best digital talent, helping them to turn their ideas into reality.

Could your ideas help to secure our nation?

Keeping our nation safe against an unprecedented number of security risks is arguably one of the biggest innovation challenges of our time. So, we've partnered with both the Cabinet Office and TechHub to search for innovative small businesses who can make a big difference.

We want SMEs to join us at the front-line of security to help deliver imaginative and effective digital products and services that can keep our nation one step ahead. If your business thrives on innovation and has the skills and knowledge to take on this challenge we'd love to hear your ideas. This is a unique chance to contribute towards the nation's security by getting your ideas off the ground with the support of BT and TechHub.

Your invitation to enter from Colm O'Neill, BT

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We've split this challenge into three categories:

Cyber Security

We're looking for cyber security solutions that can help to keep data secure and protect critical national infrastructure for both the public sector and businesses. If your business has a great idea, we'd love to hear about it.

Data collection, mining and analytics

We're looking for SMEs with the digital technology experience to help the Police and the Home Office tackle modern slavery and human trafficking. There's just not enough data and insight to tackle this growing crime. So, we need your help to develop solutions around data collection, mining and analytics from technology areas ranging from smartphone apps to big data and the dark web.

You may never have thought about how tech can be used to combat trafficking, but if you've got the right experience to co-develop a solution please tell us more.

We've put together some resources to help you understand more about Modern Slavery.

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Modern Slavery helpline website
UN 2016 report on Human Trafficking
US Government report on Human Trafficking

Digital innovation

And we're not stopping there, to stay one step ahead takes innovative thinking and that means keeping an open mind. We're looking for innovation in disruptive digital and communication services to help make the UK a safer place to live and do business.

Judging panel

Judging panel

The judging panel for the Securing the Nation competition is made up of:

Caroline Barker
Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Caroline BarkerTemporary Detective Chief Superintendent Caroline Barker has proudly served with the Metropolitan Police for 29 years. She has worked for the Deputy Commissioner, within Trident managing gang-related threats to life, and in 2011 she joined the Organised Crime Command, managing proactive operations targeting organised crime groups involved in the importation and supply of firearms and drugs.

In 2015 she took over responsibility for the Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit managing numerous kidnaps and blackmail investigations. Whilst in this role Caroline has embarked upon a pioneering partnership and proactive approach to tackling organised crime groups that take advantage of vulnerable victims of Modern Slavery.

Anna Easton, Director, Sustainable Business, BT Group
Anna EastonAnna advises the Chairman, Board and Operating Committee on trends and strategy as well as directing BT's resources in this area. Today BT is ranked the number one performing organisation globally by Carbon Clear, number three in global sustainability leaders by Newsweek and was recently awarded the 'Changing Lives' award by the Broadband World Forum for 'Connecting Africa'.

Anna sits on the UK Government's Digital Inclusion Advisory Board, The World Economic Forum's 'Internet For All' steering committee, and is BT's representative on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. She is also a member of the faculty at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability. A particular theme of interest is the role that technology plays in promoting and reinforcing the rights of the child: Anna was instrumental in developing BT's partnership with UNICEF to deliver online safety workshops across the UK.

Mark Hughes, CEO, Security, BT
Mark HughesMark is CEO of BT Security and is accountable for all elements of BT's own security activity globally. He makes sure that BT has the right policies and procedures in place to keep the company's assets – whether physical, logical or information - secure from attack.

Mark is a member of the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) global future council on cybersecurity. Mark and a small group of globally renowned experts from business, government, academia and civil society collaborate to develop new insights and perspectives on cybersecurity.

Ian Levy, Director, National Cyber Security Centre
Ian LevyIan Levy is the technical director of the UK's new National Cyber Security Centre, and was previously technical director cyber security and resilience at GCHQ. He is the UK Government's "chief cyber security geek".

Together, the NCSC's new structure and strategy mark a fundamental change in the UK's approach to cybersecurity. That approach, he says, isn't just about protecting Government or critical infrastructure or big industry. It's about a national scale approach to cybersecurity bringing unique challenges, but more importantly opportunities to do things differently.

Moira Oliver, Head of Policy and Chief Counsel, Human Rights
Moira OliverMoira Oliver was appointed Head of Policy and Chief Counsel, Human/Digital Rights at BT in July 2015. She is responsible for BT's human rights programme in the UK and internationally. Previously, as BT's Head of Legal, Corporate Responsibility & Environment, she led BT Group's UK and international legal teams advising on environmental issues and charity engagement.

Moira started her career as a solicitor at the law firm Slaughter and May, specialising in corporate and banking advisory work. She holds a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford, is qualified as a Solicitor and is currently studying for a Master's degree in Environmental Law and Practice

Colm O'Neill, MD, Major and Public Sector, BT - Chair
Colm O'NeilReporting to the CEO of Business and Public Sector, Colm is responsible for a team of 3,500 that serves all of BT's UK Government and public sector customers and BT's largest private sector customers whose business is mainly in the UK. Colm joined BT in 2009 firstly as managing director of the Ireland business sales division, then became Chief Executive of BT Ireland, a post he held for four years.

He is passionate about the importance of the STEM agenda in education and is a member of the BT Young Scientist Board which runs one of the longest standing science and technology exhibitions of its kind in the world. Colm is also a past member of the Business in the Community Board in Northern Ireland and a past chair of the Telecommunications & Internet Federation (TIF) which is the representative body for leading industry and associated interest groups in the field of electronic communications in the Republic of Ireland.

Elizabeth Varley, Chief Exec and co-founder, TechHub
Elizabeth VarleyElizabeth is a communicator, connector and serial entrepreneur and founded the global community for tech entrepreneurs, TechHub, that works with over 750 tech companies across the world to help them scale. TechHub also helps corporates access innovation culture and to work with startups to solve business challenges or develop new products.

Previously she ran an editorial and content agency, and community for online content professionals. She's been selected for Computer Weekly's UKtech50 top influencers, the Evening Standard's Silicon 60, the Debrett's 500, Vogue UK's Generation Tech and Cosmopolitan's Fierce 40 Under 40 among others. Elizabeth also sits on the board of the Digital City Exchange programme at Imperial College.

Andrew Wallis, CEO, Unseen
Andrew WallisAndrew Wallis, OBE, FRSA, is founder and CEO of Unseen, a multi-award winning charity, 'working towards a world without slavery'. Chairman of the Working Group for the Centre for Social Justice's landmark report: 'It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to fight modern slavery' which gave a comprehensive road map for government, statutory authorities and business to eradicate slavery in the UK and is now acknowledged as the catalyst for the UK's Modern Slavery Act.

He advises and collaborates with statutory agencies and businesses on how to combat and eradicate modern slavery. In 2013, he won the Influencer Award from the Directory for Social Change and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Fellow of the Centre for Social Justice in recognition of his work in combatting modern slavery and human trafficking. In 2015, he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to the Eradication of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.

Dr. Tim Whitley, MD Research & Innovation, Adastral Park, BT
Tim WhitleyProfessor Timothy Whitley is a BT Distinguished Engineer and serves as MD Research and Innovation for BT and MD of BT's R&D Campus 'Adastral Park' in Suffolk, England. He is accountable for all aspects of BT's Global Research and Innovation activities, which includes applied research, technology scouting and partnerships with world leading universities.

From 2007 to 2011 he was BT Group Strategy Director. Tim holds a BSc in Physics, a PhD in Optical Fibre Systems, is a Policy Fellow with the Centre for Science & Policy, University of Cambridge, England and is a Board member for the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. Tim is BT visiting Professor with the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex.

He is also the BT senior manager on the Equality of Access Board (EAB), the independent body established in 2006 to verify that BT is adhering to the regulatory undertakings established around the creation of Openreach.

In December 2016, Professor Whitley was appointed as a member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) by the UK Government.

What's happening when

What's happening when?

1 February - 6 March
Entry period - we are asking SMEs with ideas to secure the nation to complete the application form and send us a short video.

6 March – 28 March
Our panel of experts will review the entries and agree the shortlist.

28 March
Shortlist announced - we'll contact the SMEs on the shortlist during the week beginning 20 March.

4 April
We are inviting the short-listed SMEs to pitch their ideas to the judging panel at the BT Tower. We'd like you to make a short presentation and take questions from the judges.

This will be an afternoon event, and after the pitch session while the judges deliberate, we'd like you to join us for drinks and canapés on the 34th Floor of the BT Tower.

We'll announce the winners later that evening.

After 4 April
BT will be working with the winning SMEs to develop their ideas. The winners will receive £10,000 to take their business to the next level and they'll be able to use their TechHub flex membership.