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Thinking Digital 2013 kicks off: BubblePix and YPlan announced as startup competition finalists

Thinking Digital, one of the UK's leading ideas and innovation conferences, has kicked off in Newcastle-Gateshead.

I'm punching my timecard up in Tyneside for a couple of days to check out the goings-on at the Sage Gatehead, and the first event on the calendar was the Masterclass series.

Centred around a startup pitching competition, the opening session was held at the Newcastle University Business School and presided over by ignite100's Paul Smith.

"This kind of pitching is very, very hard. But our teams were marvellous," Smith commented.

The startup showdown featured 10 of the UK's top budding ventures, with the range of ideas on display encompassing everything from mobile phone accessories to data security solutions.

Only two could be sent through to the final, though judge Nick Goode of Sage One was quick to praise the efforts of all those involved in the competition.

"What's really exciting is seeing people having the boldness. Our first message is: keep your dream alive, whether you win or not. What we liked a lot was that there were some big ideas here. People [were] taking on the big industries - things like mobile data security," Goode said.

The two finalists selected to go head-to-head at the main event are London's YPlan, a sophisticated 'going out' app, and local Geordie heroes BubblePix, who produce the BubbleScope smartphone camera add-on (pictured, top) - you might remember it from the Gadget Show Live 2013, when it first caught ITProPortal's eye.

"It was a brilliant example of telling a can imagine sharing [it] with your relatives and your friends," Goode added of the BubblePix pitch.

The winner of the Thinking Digital startup competition will be announced once the conference is underway in earnest, so stay tuned - in addition to timeless fame and immortal glory, the winner will receive £15,000 in Rackspace services. And of course, we'll be there covering the developments on the Gateshead Quays every step of the way.