BMO Harris and 1871 Return with a Revamped Mentorship Program for Chicagoland and Wisconsin Startups


CHICAGO and MILWAUKEE, May 8, 2018 /CNW/ – BMO Harris Bank today announced its second annual BMO Harris / 1871 Innovation Program, which is focused on engaging and mentoring early-stage technology startups that have innovative solutions in lending, financial planning, digital tools and data analytics. 

The program follows last year’s BMO Harris/1871 FinTech Partnership program in Chicago, where six startups worked with BMO mentors. The winners were:

All these firms continue to have ongoing discussions with BMO Harris to explore further opportunities.

This year’s BMO Harris/ 1871 Innovation Program has been expanded to Wisconsin, thanks to new partnerships with gener8tor and Kinnektor. This will enable startups in Wisconsin to learn about the program and be encouraged to apply.

The program will once again provide winners with:

  • A three-month mentorship program with access to mentors and resources from BMO Harris Bank;
  • A working space at 1871, a 140,000 square-foot pure innovation space; and
  • The potential opportunity to pilot their technology with BMO Harris Bank along with cash prizes.

“Last year’s program was a great success; we continue having discussions with all three winners to pilot their services because we find value in what they have to offer,” said Ernie Johannson, Group Head, U.S. Personal and Business Banking, BMO Harris Bank. “This year we are excited not only to continue the partnership with 1871, but also to welcome new partners in Wisconsin to amplify our talent pool and create new synergies all around.”

Technology companies from across Chicagoland and Wisconsin area are encouraged to apply by May 29 for one of the six to eight placements. The program will follow closely last year’s schedule, which includes a period of mentorship for the startups followed by a presentation in the fall where each startup will present their product or service to a panel of BMO Harris bank judges. The three winners will be awarded a total cash prize of $50,000, with the opportunity to continue discussions with BMO Harris at the conclusion of the mentorship program to pilot their product.

“We’re fortunate to have many major corporations right in our backyard, and connecting them with startups in order to share ideas, talent, and resources is an opportunity that benefits everyone,” said Betsy Ziegler, Chief Executive Officer, 1871. “BMO Harris is an outstanding example of a corporation that is a deep part of Chicago’s innovation story, and we are pleased to work closely with them again this year to help even more entrepreneurs achieve their full potential.”

Nationally ranked accelerator gener8tor along with Green Bay- based entrepreneur support organization Kinnektor, will bring the program to their communities, who will have the opportunity to apply to the program for the first time. BMO Harris will pair up startups based in Wisconsin with appropriate local mentors where possible for a seamless collaboration throughout the mentorship period. All participants, regardless of location, will have the opportunity to enjoy a membership to 1871 and BMO Harris resources across Wisconsin, Chicago and beyond.

“We are excited to be partnering with BMO Harris Bank and 1871 on this opportunity,” said gener8tor co-founder Troy Vosseller. “We believe collaborations like this highlight our region as a top ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovation.”

“Midwest corporations play an important role in the startup world and tangible opportunities like the BMO Harris/ 1871 Innovation Program create opportunities for entrepreneurs and support organizations like Kinnektor,” said John Ernst, Chief Executive Officer, Kinnektor. “Wisconsin startups are really hungry for these kinds of programs and we hope that others take notice and are encouraged to do the same in their industries.”  

Applications to the BMO Harris/ 1871 Innovation Program are due by May 29, 2018 at 8:59 a.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 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$728 billion (as of January 31, 2018), and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees.

About 1871

1871 is the home of over 500 high-growth technology startups and more than 1,500 members supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. Visit for more information. Located in a 150,000 square-foot space over three floors in The Merchandise Mart, 1871 has more than 600 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. For more on our partners, visit, or become a partner by reaching out to

About gener8tor

gener8tor is a nationally ranked accelerator that invests in high-growth startups. Three times a year, they invest up to $140K in each of five startups who receive a concierge experience during their 12-week accelerator program. gener8tor supports the growth of these startups through their network of experienced mentors, technologists, corporate partners, angel investors and venture capitalists. 

About Kinnektor

Kinnektor is a nonprofit entrepreneur support organization located in Oshkosh, WI. Kinnektor envisions a thriving entrepreneurial community in Northeast Wisconsin and throughout the state created by connecting various elements of the ecosystem through workshops, conferences, programs and other means to promote innovation. More information can be found at

SOURCE BMO Harris Bank

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


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