Thursday 22 October 2009

Updated: Orange launches startup competition with NESTA #OSCR

How does one of the world's biggest mobile telecoms companies, with 180,000 employees worldwide, remain innovative in a market that risks becoming commoditised?

This is the challenge that Orange is facing and why today they launch the OSCR ("Oscar") Project at NESTA's headquarters in central London.

Back in the 90s, Orange was the quirky mobile phone company that launched with the inspiring tag line "The Future's Bright, The Future's Orange".

Then, about ten years ago, they were acquired by Mannesmann of Germany, which in turn was bought by Vodafone. The EU Commission then forced it to divest Orange and France Telecom ended up the eventual owner.

Orange has a multitude of venturing programs. The OSCR project is a way for Orange to tap into the creativity of the UK tech scene, to develop services for great customer experience in order to deliver significant revenue back to Orange, all the while protecting the IP of the companies taking part.

Mark Watts-Jones, Head of Product Marketing at Orange, gave the example of Orange Wednesdays as one of the ways in which customer relationships are strengthened. Orange is looking for other similar cross-platform (mobile/web/TV) services that develop communities, enhance messaging or offer personalisation, amongst other opportunities.

How it works

In a nutshell, companies have until next Friday 12:00 AM on 6th November to submit an application in response to the brief. The applications are then reviewed, not by Orange, but by a third party 'Trusted Agent Team' consisting of NESTA, live | work and Wireless Innovation.

Ten days later, five to ten companies will be selected to share in £100,000 to prepare to pitch to Orange. The companies will then work with Orange over the next 90 days to determine whether a commercial partnership can be agreed.

After that, well, the future's bright.

Full details of the programme, including slides and videos from today's launch event will be available on the OSCR project website as of tomorrow.