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Bulgarian President Visits Cisco Headquarters in Silicon Valley

During his first official visit to the U.S., recently elected Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev visited Cisco’s corporate headquarters yesterday and met with John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco. President Plevneliev and Mr. Chambers discussed the role technology and IT adoption can play in driving economic growth and competitiveness.

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev at Cisco HQ

Mr. Chambers informed the president about Cisco’s activities in Bulgaria and reconfirmed the company’s commitment to the country. Cisco has been present in Bulgaria since 1999 and has been actively contributing to building a knowledge-based economy by creating an ecosystem of more than 200 local partners.

The company also has a developer team based in the capital Sofia, who are focused on developing Cisco Quad, a highly-innovative enterprise collaboration platform. Cisco Quad helps connect people to information and expertise they need, when they need it. It helps facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas across geographic and organizational boundaries. Virgin Media, Nike, GE and Bank of America are some of Cisco’s global customers who already use the Quad platform. Collaboration is one of Cisco’s five strategic priorities.

Cisco’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative, Cisco Networking Academy, has been active in Bulgaria since 1999 and there are currently more than 50 academies operating across the country. Since its launch in Bulgaria, more than 17,000 local students have participated in the diverse IT and networking courses offered by the academy.

President Plevneliev was accompanied by Elena Poptodorova, the Bulgarian ambassador to the U.S., James B. Warlick, U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, as well as a delegation of Bulgarian business leaders. Cisco Bulgaria general manager Borislav Dimitrov also joined the meeting, whilst Peter Hajdu, Cisco regional manager for South East Europe and a team of Cisco Bulgaria employees participated virtually using Cisco TelePresence technology.

We look forward to continuing the strategic partnership between Cisco and the Bulgarian government and working together to advance the president’s innovation agenda.

Singularity is approaching – and what does Central and Eastern Europe do about it?

What is singularity? The word has several interpretations in mathematics, geometry, natural sciences and technology. Increasingly, it is used to describe an exponential emergence of technological development with the potential of changing the world as we know it.

Singularity University (SU), located at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, was established in 2008 to create a global network of like-minded entrepreneurs, technologists and young leaders, dedicated to innovation and exploring the ways to singularity.

To make its efforts truly world-wide, SU launched a series of Global Impact Competitions, including one in Central and Eastern Europe, which is nearing its finals at the end of this week. Supported by Cisco, the competition reached thousands of university students, young entrepreneurs and business people in the region. Organizers were looking for innovative project ideas which could improve the lives of one million people in a 3-year period with the help of technology.

54 applications were submitted from eight countries, addressing issues of health, education or security. The minds behind the six most outstanding projects will get together on May 4th in Budapest, Hungary, to present their ideas and compete for the grand prize, an invitation to Singularity University’s summer course this year, worth 30 000 USD.  The jury will be chaired by noone less than Professor Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik cube.

So cross fingers for the finalists and their exciting ideas and watch this space to find out who wins later this week:

  • Agnieszka Gaczkowska, Poland: Drug waste -- web-based service for used medicaments location and drug shortages alerts
  • Tamas Haidegger, Hungary: Hand Hygiene for a Healthier Planet- innovative education and objective control on personal hygiene
  • Vaclav Plevka, Czech Republic: Avoiding the Gridlock Incident in order to Keep the Conurbations in Operation
  • Bogdana Rakova, Bulgaria: LIVEstat- phone assisted healthy shopping
  • Daniel Ratai, Hungary: Leonar3Do the VR kit changing education, teaching and lifelong learning
  • Priszcilla Varnagy, Hungary: Be-novative: Conquering real-life challenges with creativity

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Cisco furthers investments in global socio-economic development

At this week’s opening ceremony of the Cisco Plus Brazil 2012 conference in Rio de Janeiro, we stood with local and national government officials and formally announced our strategic investment initiatives in Brazil. Through the use of information and communications technology, Cisco hopes to foster the level of innovation, transformation and socio-economic development necessary to sustain the country’s growth and competitiveness.

In Brazil, our R$1 billion investment will be distributed over the next four years around the pillars of innovation, venture capital funding, strategic local partnerships and expansion in local manufacturing. In the second half of 2012, Cisco will be inaugurating a center of innovation in Rio de Janeiro to develop customized technology solutions for the country. First round efforts will be focused on sports and entertainment technology, public safety and security, as well as improved access to education and healthcare. The center will also help support Cisco’s global Smart+Connected Communities initiatives through developing efficient urban infrastructures and fostering growth within new and existing cities in Brazil.

In an effort to capture the immense economic and innovation potential in the Brazilian ICT market, we are working with local partners and dedicating up to R$100 million of the investment to create the largest high-tech VC fund in the country. We are also continuing efforts in building local partnerships to properly address some key opportunities in Brazil. A recent intellectual property agreement with Intelbras – a leader in the Brazilian telephony market – is aimed at encouraging local SMBs to migrate towards IP telephony. In the area of R&D, Cisco will continue to support the Planetary Skin Institute (PSI), a global, independent nonprofit R&D organization. PSI has developed multiple agreements with leading R&D institutions in Brazil to co-develop high-priority platforms for the country, such as early warning systems.

Back in 2010, we officially began production of set top boxes in Brazil through a partnership with cable service provider NET Serviços. Since its inception in early 2011, the Manaus plant has already been through two expansion efforts. Local manufacturing initiatives continue to reinforce our commitment to technological development, entrepreneurship and job creation around the globe. Cisco will continue fostering local manufacturing efforts in Brazil to include production of our best-selling core routing and switching products.

We are continuing these efforts in other areas of the globe as well, with notable recent developments in Russia.

Marthin De Beer and Viktor Vekselberg sign R&D roadmap

Coming off last week’s signing of an R&D strategy roadmap with the Skolkovo Foundation, we’re excited to announce the availability of our 2911R/K9 router, the third Cisco product made in Russia. These developments represent further commitment to Brazil and Russia as key global priorities and countries with immense growth potential.

Assembly of our one of our most popular Integrated Services Routers, the ISR 2911 / K9 bundle has been launched in the city of Tver in Russia, following a pilot project in early march. The 2911R/K9 Integrated Services Router will be available to the Russian market through a network of authorized Cisco partners. To date, this marks the third Cisco product made in Russia. In 2011, we announced the availability of both a VPN hardware solution and Cisco set top boxes, made possible through collaborative local partnerships.

The first Cisco ISR 2911 assembled in Russia

Cisco 2911R/K9 Integrated Services Routers (ISR) are designed to power the next phase of branch-office evolution, providing rich media collaboration and virtualization to the branch while reducing operating costs. The Cisco 2911R/K9 reduces initial capital outlays by decoupling the delivery of software from hardware on optional service modules. In addition, customers receive a Universal IOS image capable of enabling all of Cisco’s rich IOS features and allowing quicker deployment of new services. Integrated anti-malware tools as well as voice, data and mobile access security features helps to support a high level of data security. The router also opens great opportunities for remote operations by flexibly supporting VPN, to provide remote employees with secure access to corporate resources via secure channels.

Through the expansion of local manufacturing efforts in Russia, Cisco is delivering on its vision to stimulate local entrepreneurship and sustainable innovation, bolster job creation in the region and introduce the most advanced technologies to the area. Coupled with the activities in Brazil, we are proud and excited of our further involvement in the growth and development of these key economies

Cisco ASR 901: Pioneering Innovation and Product Development from Emerging Countries

Guest post from Dr. Ishwar Parulkar

Dr. Ishwar Parulkar is the CTO of Provider Access Business Unit of Cisco Systems in Bangalore.

The Indian Information Technology sector is coming of age as it focuses on innovation and product development after a couple of decades of success based on service based engineering models. The Asian software and services engineering giant is also trailblazing for the emerging world by bringing in specific technology needs of this part of the world -- which often leapfrog the needs in the developed world – into global products.

One such success in this direction is ASR 901, Cisco’s next generation mobile backhaul platform that recently won the New Technology Advancement Innovation Award at the NASSCOM 2012 India Leadership Forum. This product is also a unique case of reverse innovation, where even though initially driven by critical emerging countries’ requirements, it is now a competitive product in developed countries as well.

The product definition, its design tradeoffs, execution and development of ecosystem partnerships are a pioneering model for IT MNCs in the emerging world to innovate and drive end-to-end products development from their remote sites in emerging countries.

ASR 901 addresses the needs of Access, Carrier Ethernet, TDM backhaul and Cell Site Gateway. The features and price point of this product makes it very versatile and fit a range of applications from 2G/3G/4G/LTE cell sites, CE/ME/Business Access, NID to Optical Satellites, resulting in new revenue streams for the company. It is also the first Cisco product to be completely developed from the India site – from conception, architecture, hardware/software implementation, testing and qualification to marketing.

Some of the lessons learned in the development of ASR 901 that can be generalized for other similar efforts from emerging countries are:

1) It is important to define the right product – the product needs to be relevant to the business, the remote site needs to have an advantage in that space either because of proximity to the market or domain expertise and the product has to have the right level of complexity to succeed.

2) The right type and level of talent needs to be groomed or seeded from mature technology markets. Senior technologists/architects and product marketing experts, which are typically not easily available in emerging countries are particularly critical.

3) A work culture of innovation and product development, which is different than a service engineering culture needs to be consciously created through mentoring and work practices.

4) Product development requires a mature ecosystem of partners locally. The local ecosystem in emerging countries needs to be developed via co-development, transfer of knowledge as well building long term relationships.

ASR 901 is one key milestone in the evolution of Cisco’s focus on developing its engineering capability in its second headquarters, referred to as Globalisation Centre East- starting with sustaining work, taking on increasingly complex engineering tasks over time and culminating in an original product being developed from the site. A full-fledged mainstream business unit, the Provider Access Business Unit is now located in India.

Some of Cisco’s key innovative technologies, applicable across company’s product lines, are originating out of this site. The Cisco journey of evolution of engineering capability in emerging countries is well into the next phase of innovation and thought leadership.

Hungary’s Newest Cisco Networking Academy Opens New Opportunities for Disabled Students

24 disabled students started their networking studies this week, following the inauguration of a new Cisco Networking Academy at Addetur Foundation’s secondary school in Budapest.

“Addetur Foundation was established 18 years ago with the mission to support the integration of young people with disabilities and improve their employment prospects. The cooperation with Cisco Networking Academy is another important milestone for us, as it opens up a fast-developing area for our students,” said Gabriella Kekesne Czinderi, director of Addetur. “The fact that the networking academy curriculum can be accessed online is also a great help for our community”, she added.

Cisco Hungary contributed HUF 1,000,000 to the launch of the new academy, as part of the company’s vocational training contribution.

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