BMO and 1871 Reveal the Winners of the Second Annual Innovation Mentorship Program


CHICAGO and MILWAUKEE, Nov. 13, 2018 /CNW/ – BMO and 1871 have announced the three winners for the BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program. This second edition of the mentorship program launched in the spring for Chicagoland and Wisconsin startups with solutions in lending, financial planning, digital tools and data analytics. This year’s program also received support from Wisconsin-based gener8tor and Kinnektor organizations.

The cohort spent three months with BMO experts strengthening their value propositions, enhancing their readiness for enterprise partnerships, and learning about other key focus areas to scale their solutions. The startups this year once again received access to resources from BMO, a membership to 1871, and an opportunity to win cash prizes.

The program concluded with pitches from each startup to a panel of BMO executives who acted as judges. The winners received $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 for first, second and third place respectively. The winners are:

  • First place – Ascent Technologies: Helps firms build, manage, and automate their regulatory compliance program through an AI-powered regulation monitoring platform, which ultimately frees up teams to focus on better customer experiences.
  • Second place – Safe Rate Mortgage (SRM): A new mortgage that offers low down payment borrowers monthly payment relief in housing market downturns and provides an alternative to private mortgage insurance.
  • Third place – RankMiner: An artificial intelligence SaaS platform that analyzes call center phone conversations to enable enterprises to identify customers at risk, customers with a propensity to buy, and employees that help or hurt the business.

“This partnership with 1871, Kinnektor and gener8tor allowed us to learn from the startups, deepen our involvement in local communities, guide and mentor the teams, and most importantly provides us with the opportunity to innovate for our customers,” said Ben Schack, Head, U.S. Digital Partnerships, BMO Partners.  “We’re thrilled to conclude another successful journey with a talented group of startups who impressed us with their level of engagement, commitment to learning and ability to apply learnings to move their businesses forward.”

BMO is focused on enhancing the customer and employee experience through digitizing processes and developing innovative digital solutions. The mentorship program fosters collaboration efforts that help augment existing work streams to deliver digital experiences that make it easy for employees and customers. 

“It’s an honor to partner once again with BMO Harris Bank to cultivate, drive and expand innovation in our community,” said 1871 CEO Betsy Ziegler. “We’re proud of this year’s winners, and also of all of the accomplished entrepreneurs who participated in the program. Their efforts, combined with the wealth of support and expertise at BMO Harris Bank, reinforce the fact that startups and major corporations both stand to benefit when they work together. We are excited to continue to work with BMO on this program for many years to come.”

“This has been an invaluable program; we’re very thankful to our mentors for their support and placing first place is an added bonus to everything else we’ve gained throughout the last few months,” said Brian Clark, CEO, Ascent Technologies. “We’re thrilled to be recognized for the value we bring to the RegTech and financial services industries and look forward to our continued partnership with BMO Harris Bank.”

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 U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Banking products and services are subject to bank and credit 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$765 billion (as of July 31, 2018), 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 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


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