Innovation Birmingham announces winners of The Next Big Idea Contest with leading Canadian business incubator

Innovation Birmingham has announced the winners of The Next Big Idea Contest in partnership with the DMZ at Ryerson University, one of the top ranked university incubators in the world. The contest is an innovation exchange competition for start-ups in Birmingham, UK and Ontario, Canada.

Sponsored by NatWest and Gowling WLG, the competition enables the winning tech entrepreneurs to spend two weeks abroad incubating their companies, gaining market insight through expert advisor meetings and exploring ways to scale up their businesses internationally.

The Birmingham-based winners are Hopper and Breaking Free Group. Hopper HQ is the world’s first fully automated scheduling tool for Instagram. The user friendly platform enables individuals, brands and agencies to schedule content for a specific date and time, similar to popular applications such as Hootsuite and Buffer. Breaking Free Group is a healthcare platform that targets and addresses addictive behaviours. It does this by identifying underlying psychological and life style issues that drive substance misuse, before providing accessible intervention advice for users.

The Ontario-based winners of the competition are Sampler and Komodo OpenLab. Sampler is an online sampling management and analytics platform which helps companies distribute their product samples more effectively through personalised digital programmes. Komodo OpenLab offers inclusive technologies, open software and hardware that improves the daily lives of people with disabilities.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO at Innovation Birmingham, said: “The winners of The Next Big Idea Contest have created innovative technologies and approaches that show great potential. With continued guidance and support from Innovation Birmingham, the DMZ and initiatives like The Next Big Idea Contest, the selected start-ups will be able to utilise a wide range of resources that will enable them to scale their business globally – ensuring continued growth and success.”

“Hosting these entrepreneurs from Birmingham at the DMZ is a step in the right direction to creating global business opportunities for both Birmingham start-ups and resident start-ups at the DMZ,” said Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director at the DMZ. “We are pleased to be working with Innovation Birmingham on such an important initiative and we are excited to welcome Birmingham start-ups into Toronto’s thriving start-up ecosystem.”

The contest follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Innovation Birmingham and Ryerson University in 2015, both recognising the need to provide global opportunities for local start-up communities.

Andy Lee, NatWest’s Regional Enterprise Manager for the Midlands and East of England, said: “We are delighted to have sponsored this year’s Next Big Idea Contest; a competition which provides a fantastic opportunity for each of the winners to sell into new markets and gain valuable experience of the global economy. We are thrilled to have supported this competition which shares our common objective for promoting and facilitating international collaboration.”

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