Next20 startup program

The Next20 is TM Forum's startup program connecting startups with CSPs and technology suppliers to strengthen the ecosystem and inspire the next wave of innovation and growth. This program ignites conversations and builds partnerships that enable the startups to scale and the corporations to empower their innovation cycles.

Participating startups gain the opportunity to immerse themselves in and shape the telecommunications industry through a dedicated program. They receive valuable mentoring, exhibit their innovations, and compete in an exclusive pitching competition at TM Forum’s DTW - Ignite event series.

The current edition focuses on addressing the following challenges:

AI Revolution Challenge: How can startups lead the AI revolution in the telecommunications sector with innovative AI-based tech solutions? We seek pioneering startups developing cutting-edge AI technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, or computer vision, poised to transform the industry.

Efficiency Challenge: How can your solutions enhance efficiency within the telecommunications sector? We seek startups dedicated to driving operational excellence and fostering advancements that make the telecommunications industry more streamlined, effective, and resource-efficient.

Growth Challenge: How can innovation ignite solutions to shape the telecommunications sector of the future and propel every TelCo into a true TechCo? We are on the lookout for startups unlocking new growth opportunities for the industry and pushing the boundaries of telco companies to impact enterprises, governments, and society.

Questions? Reach out to Hugues Bardin at hbardin@tmforum.org.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Startups founded from 2019 onwards
  • With a dedicated and visionary team
  • With a prototype, product, or solution already developed and, if possible, in action.
  • With existing customers or users, indicating market interest and validation.
  • With the ability to present the prototype or product
  • Alignment with one or more of the challenges defined

Selected Startups receive:

Exhibition opportunity

Showcase your company to thousands of attendees in the Next20 village—a dedicated exhibition area for lead generation and deal initiation with leaders in the telco industry.

Pitching competition

Seize the opportunity to be crowned as the Next20 winner, presenting on a global stage in front of a jury comprising investors and corporate innovation representatives

Mentoring sessions

Engage in our dedicated mentoring sessions, receiving invaluable advice and guidance from our extensive network of innovators, investors, and experts.


Be featured on DTW24 - Ignite communication channels and gain access to exclusive networking events, connecting with C-level leaders and innovation managers.

Next20 competition winners will receive:

  • One-year membership to TM Forum
  • (1) social media post to TM Forum's LinkedIn audience of 54,000+ announcing your company as the challenge winner
  • Featured in post-event wrap-up video, article, and press release
  • Onsite video demo and interview which will be posted on TM Forum's Inform channel
  • Opportunity to participate in a TM Forum Catalyst project
  • (1) VIP pass to DTW25 - Ignite
  • Complimentary exhibition opportunity at DTW25 - Ignite
  • Speaking opportunity during the Next20 program at DTW25 - Ignite

"We've participated in Next20 at DTW 2022 and we had an awesome experience. Next20 accelerated our learning about the CSP space where we were able to quickly validate our thoughts and vision on how we could potentially work together. I was also amazed at how well organized all the players work together as part of the TM Forum. It felt like discovering a whole new world full of exciting new opportunities.

Nicholas Piël
Nicholas Piël

“I find the Executive Connect meetings particularly useful for exploring collaboration opportunities and discussing common challenges whether global or regional.

João Mestre
João Mestre

“The event provided us with the widest access to new ideas and learning from our peers, vendors, and thought-leaders. Axiata and its subsidiaries have benefitted tremendously, and we can count on the meetings for us to make the most out of this event.

Eren Soyak
Eren Soyak

Meet our past members of the jury & expert mentors:

Priya Kurien

Priya Kurien

Global Telecom Leader

IBM Institute for Business Value

Tom Winstanley

Tom Winstanley

CTO & Head of New Ventures | R&D


Lars Vestergaard

Lars Vestergaard

Venture Partner

Invenio Growth

Amer Ramzan

Amer Ramzan

Managing Partner

Promentum Equity Partners

Nok Suvithyasiri

Nok Suvithyasiri

Industry Advisor – Telco & Media


Maria Hartikainen

Maria Hartikainen

5G Innovation Manager,

TDC Net & Ericsson 5G Innovation Hub

Jeanette Carlsson

Jeanette Carlsson

Founder & CEO

Tech Nordic Advocates

Emelie Frisk

Emelie Frisk

Group Strategy & Commercial Manager


Questions? Reach out to Hugues Bardin at hbardin@tmforum.org.