BT, Facebook open door to start-ups in latest innovation contest

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BT and Facebook are aiming to unlock fresh connectivity solutions for rural areas and self-healing networks after launching its latest start-up competition.

It is the second year of the competition and it is encouraging entries in the automated intent-based networking and mobile fields.

The winners will be invited to join the Facebook-led Telecoms Infra Project's Ecosystem Acceleration Centres in London and Martlesham, about 100 miles north-east of the UK's capital.

They will also work with engineers in BT's own labs, with access to their network, hardware and testing capabilities. Additionally, the winners will be connected with potential investors.

Howard Watson, CTIO of BT, and a member of the TIP Board, said: “TIP was created to help tackle some of the big challenges in telecoms, boosting global connectivity by supporting big ideas.

"We’re particularly interested in start-ups with innovative ideas on how to deploy mobile networks cost-effectively in rural areas, as we look ahead to the roll-out of 5G services.

“Intent-based networking is another area with huge potential, helping networks to manage themselves and ‘self-heal’ to underpin more reliable services – we’d also welcome entries in this, and related fields.”

The Telecom Infra Project was formed in 2016 and now comprises more than 500 companies, spanning operators, vendors, system integrators and other tech companies. It aims to develop new ways of delivering network architecture.

Last year's competition was won by AI drone platform company UnManned Life, security chip company KETS Quantum Security, and SDN management vendor Zeetta Networks.

The winning companies got access to £125 million in funding.