News Release

Cisco BIG Awards Is Back to Celebrate and Reward Innovative Start-ups and SMEs Within the UK

Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK and Ireland, launches second annual BIG Awards
Mar 21, 2013

London - 21 March 2013 – Following the success of last year's BIG Awards, Cisco is continuing its quest to discover and help develop emerging and early-stage technology based start-ups. Last year the BIG Awards attracted more than 300 entries, including six fantastic finalists. Registration opened yesterday, and Cisco is calling all new start-ups and SMEs to raise the bar this year.

This year's BIG Awards will run from March until November 2013 and involve a four-stage judging process.  The final of the awards will take place at a special event on 14 November 2013, where the six finalists will present their business plans live to a judging panel before the winner is chosen.

With support from partners including Bird & Bird, DNX, Spigit, Right Management and Octopus Communications the BIG Awards is now an annual open innovation competition to discover and reward the finest examples of the UK's most futuristic start-up digital businesses and SMEs. Last year Snap Fashion was crowned winner, following a live Dragon's Den-style event. Jenny Griffiths, Founder and CEO, was presented with a cheque for $100,000, plus a mentorship package valued at over $75k including business support, investment advice, technology advice, marketing and PR support and legal advice.

Runners-up and semi-finalists will also receive cash and technology prizes to support and accelerate the development of their brands and businesses. The BIG Awards is an essential part of Cisco's British Innovation Gateway (BIG) initiative, a significant five-year investment of cash, technology and human resources, which aims to develop Britain's innovation eco-system and create an environment in which start-up digital businesses and their ideas can flourish.  The awards will continue annually throughout the five-year duration of Cisco's BIG initiative to help create a community of innovative industry leaders.

Open to individuals, groups and legal entities in the UK, applicants can enter their technology concept or prototype idea into one of four categories that represent some of the most relevant technology challenges and mega-trends we are seeing across the globe today.  For each category, the entry should showcase how the concept can benefit the public and private sectors, utilising the network as the platform to deliver economic, social and environmental sustainability.

The categories are:

  • BIG Data, including Data Centre/Virtualisation
  • Collaboration, including Video and Social Media
  • The Internet of Things
  • Mobility

For more information on each category and competition entry requirements, visit the BIG Awards website. Registration is now open and entrants will be able to submit their initial business or technology ideas from 20 March 2013. Entries will close on 21 June 2013.

An event to launch the awards took place yesterday at St Mary's Axe, London. Phil Smith, Cisco CEO UK and Ireland, was in attendance and delivered a keynote address about the importance of innovation and the global mega-trend, the Internet of Everything.

Supporting Quote

  • Phil Smith, CEO, Cisco UK and Ireland, said: "The BIG Awards is a key component of our five year, British Innovation Gateway initiative to encourage UK growth through entrepreneurship and the advancement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills. Last year demonstrated how many high potential technology based start-ups and SMEs there are in the UK. We are looking forward to identifying more potential in businesses at this year's BIG Awards. By nurturing the growing businesses of tomorrow, we are helping to build a brilliant future for technology in the UK."

About the British Innovation Gateway (BIG)
Cisco's main focus is to create programs that will have a long-term contribution to the growth high-tech industries and the economic health of the UK.  The British Innovation Gateway (BIG) initiative is part of that economic legacy and is a framework of programs that is designed to help drive innovation and support technology start-ups across London and the rest of the UK and Ireland.

Launched in January 2011 by Prime Minister David Cameron and Cisco's chairman and CEO, John Chambers, BIG is underpinned by Cisco's significant five-year investment of cash, technology and human resources. The initiative aims to develop Britain's innovation eco-system and create an environment in which start-up digital businesses and their ideas can flourish.

Cisco's long-term vision is to help build a brilliant future for Britain. BIG will discover and develop the entrepreneurs of today, helping to establish Britain as a leader in innovation, whilst Cisco's other Olympic Legacy programs such as key educational initiatives like STEMNet and the extension of the Cisco Network Academy™ programs in East London, will help to uncover the skills of tomorrow. Information about BIG can be found at

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