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BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program Expands Nationwide

Seeking Entrepreneurs with Solutions and Services that Augment Banking Customer Experiences and Attract New Customers

CHICAGO, March 18, 2019 /CNW/ - BMO Harris Bank today announced that this year's BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program will open to startups nationwide, with applications due by April 19. This year's program is focused on mentoring startups that have created services or solutions for the financial sector, offer insights and advice to customers, or help identify customer needs.

Over the past two years, 10 startups have participated in the program and over 75 subject matter experts from across BMO Financial Group's (BMO) North American offices have shared their expertise with the selected startups. The mentorship program is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to bring their cutting-edge technology and ideas forward to see if they are a good fit for BMO's ongoing focus to deliver exceptional experiences through all channels, including digital.

For the first time, the BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program will be open to startups in all 50 U.S. states. The program is again supported by Green Bay, Wisc. - based entrepreneur support organization Kinnektor. This year's cohort will also have the opportunity to pitch venture capital investors for feedback, mentoring, continued connections, and/or funding.

"BMO is investing in technology to transform the banking experience for our customers," said Ernie Johannson, Group Head, U.S. Personal and Business Banking, BMO Harris Bank. "We are nimbly bringing to market products and services designed to fit customers' needs and making both self- and assisted-service banking easier and faster for customers and our team.  With our partners at 1871, this mentorship program allows us to support the startups and technology that are also transforming the banking experience."

Startups from across the U.S. are welcome to apply by April 19 for one of the five or six placements. The program includes a three-month mentorship period with BMO subject matter experts, access to the space at 1871 – including their community, recruiting, mentorship and workshop resources– and the opportunity to pilot their technology with BMO. The winners will receive cash prizes following their Fall presentation to a panel of BMO judges who will review their solution or service.

"This program has been valuable for Chicago's startup and entrepreneur community, and we're thrilled once again to partner with BMO Harris – except this time, we're taking it nationwide," said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. "Innovation occurs when startups and major corporations sit on the same side of the table. I'm confident that the resources, mentorships, and access to investors afforded through this partnership will provide founders all over the nation with the tools they need to thrive."

BMO is introducing new customer experience enhancements in 2019, which focus on efficient technology capabilities that include high security across all channels for customers' advantage. BMO puts customer experience at the center of every decision.

"This program provides BMO with an opportunity to develop further collaborative partnerships and proof of concepts that may benefit our customers and a platform for the bank to build community among emerging startups," said Ben Schack, Head, U.S. BMO Partners. 

Applications to the BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program are due by April 19, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. CT. For more information on the program, eligibility and how to apply, visit:

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through nearly 600 branches and fee-free access to over 40,000 ATMs across the United States. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the United States. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, visit the company fact sheet. Accounts are subject to approval. BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a highly diversified financial services provider with total assets of CDN$807 billion (as of Jan. 31, 2019), and more than 45,000 employees.

About 1871
1871 is a not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, equip, and support founders to build great businesses. It is the #1 ranked university-affiliated business incubator in the world, and the home of ~500 high-growth technology startups and ~1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Located in a 140,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has 500 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 100 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Visit for more information.


SOURCE BMO Harris Bank

For further information: Media contacts: Emily Penate, Chicago,, (312) 461-7956