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Innovation Program


Are you a Chicago or Wisconsin-based startup?

We invite you to apply for the BMO Harris/1871 Innovation Program! Accepted startups will receive mentoring from the BMO Harris team, as well as access to the 1871 space and resources, including 500+ workshops per year.

If accepted, you will also have the chance to win a cash prize of up to $25,000 (first place), $15,000 (second place) or $10,000 (third place) at the culmination of the program.

The program will run from from July to October.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • You must have a technology startup that falls within one or more of the following sectors: lending, financial advice, digital functionality, and data analytics.
  • Your startup should have a beta product ready to demo.
  • Your team must consist of more than one person, all based in Chicago or the state of Wisconsin at the time of application. 
  • All startups that meet the above requirements are eligible. You are not required to be an existing member of 1871, gener8tor, or Kinnektor.

Before you apply, please read the Official Rules.

Selected startups receive:

  • A four-month mentorship program with access to mentors and resources from BMO Harris
  • A working space at 1871, a 130,000 square-foot innovation space
  • The opportunity to win up to $25,000
  • The potential opportunity to pilot your technology with BMO Harris


The deadline to apply for the 2018 BMO Harris/1871 Innovation Program is 8:59 a.m. CT on May 29, 2018.

Apply Now

Learn More

“The program has given us the opportunity to have conversations with senior bank leaders about product and market fit that doesn’t take place within the typical sales environment, and that has really changed the dynamic and outcome of those conversations,”

—Rochelle Gorey, Co-Founder, SpringFour

2017 Winners

1st place: Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is a platform that helps employers offer student loan assistance as a benefit, so that companies can attract and retain college-educated talent.

Peanut Butter is part of the inaugural cohort of  1871’s Advanced Member Program (AMP). The company was also selected to pitch at Google Demo Day 2017.

2nd place: Genivity

Genivity is an A.I. software platform that helps financial advisors engage clients and retain next generation heirs through life stage, health risk, and care cost planning. 

Co-Founder Heather Holmes was a member of  WiSTEM Cohort 4. Genivity was also selected to pitch at Google Demo Day 2018.

3rd place: Springfour

Springfour is a platform that works with the financial services industry to help improve payment performance, reduce delinquencies, and increase customer engagement.

Co-Founder and CEO Rochelle Gorey was a member of  WiSTEM Cohort 3.


The 2018 program is operated in collaboration with Wisconsin-based accelerators gener8tor and Kinnektor.