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Life after an Innovation Center

AS91675Cisco Innovation Centers are where start-ups, accelerators, developers, researchers, ecosystem partners and the venture community come together to create ground-breaking technology and innovative solutions for the future. We have nine of them around the world, and we wanted to share a little insight about what it’s like for a start-up to be part of one. In this guest blog, Jacoby Thwaites, founder of SPARKL, discusses the time he and his team spent at the Cisco-backed IDEALondon innovation hub, how it helped the firm grow, and his journey since leaving. The following copy comes directly from Jacoby:

A great emphasis has been placed by industry leaders and governmental bodies on supporting innovation at a grass roots level, to drive industry growth, explore new ideas and create jobs. As a result, hundreds of start-up accelerators have sprung up across Europe and the United States. But what happens when a start-up finishes its placement, and goes off to make it in the real world? Drawn from my own experiences at IDEALondon, here are some of the ways a Cisco Innovation Center can help a firm move to the next level:

Let’s connect

Innovation centers are naturally busy places, with people from all sectors and professional backgrounds passing through. As a result, you build up an amazing range of contacts which can really open doors for a start-up.

Often, it’s the introductions you don’t think will be particularly useful that turn out to be really valuable! For instance, a contact made at the beginning of our time at IDEALondon recently got back in touch to introduce us to an innovation lab at the Level 39 tech accelerator in Canary Wharf, London, which might be very useful for SPARKL in its next phase of growth.

Innovation labs such as IDEALondon, which are not industry-specific, also expose you to people from a wide range of sectors. This allowed us to connect with firms from manufacturing, aerospace, retail, finance and more. This is all incredibly valuable – not just in terms of future business leads, but also in obtaining feedback and insights that help you rethink the possibilities of your product. Read More »

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2016 and Beyond: Technologies and Trends that Will Change the Future of IT

AQ77082 (1)2015 was a wild year in technology advancements and decay, and there is no reason to think that 2016 won’t follow suit…

We have seen the biggest tech acquisition in history with Dell snapping up EMC for $67 billion; HP splitting into two companies; Google turning into a subsidiary of Alphabet; and Cisco entering in a new era with Chuck Robbins becoming the new CEO.

Last year we also saw the Tesla model S car drive itself, an ever-growing number of drones in the sky, and SpaceX launch the first reusable rocket into orbital space. We predicted that without apps as part of their IoE strategies, businesses would suffocate from the missed opportunity that mobile offers and Smartphones continued to rule as we spend more and more hours every day with them.

The race to connect the unconnected will continue as well, whether we speak about connecting the next 4 billion people, introducing more wearables, creating body implants or enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), where billions of sensors are changing the way we live our lives. In the coming year, we will continue to march toward IoT with more than 11.5 billion mobile-ready devices and connections – 4 billion more than there were in 2014. Read More »

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Innovation Grand Challenge Winners Present Glimpse into the Future

Dubai City__1449582471_64.102.249.10During three days in Dubai – what many call the Silicon Oasis — I joined a new and changing world of thinkers and doers. We experienced first-hand the smartest advances in 21st century technology and glimpsed into the future of what’s possible with the Internet of Things (IoT). That future is breathtaking in scope, imagination and opportunity.

And it was evident all around that this future is already upon us.

The occasion, of course, was the IoT World Forum (IoTWF), hosted for the third year in a row by Cisco, and made so successful by the commitment of our industry colleagues, our customers, partners, ecosystem of entrepreneurs and local officials.

In Dubai, site of the 2020 World Expo, we saw how IoT momentum is accelerating exponentially. From the Startup Showcase . . . to case studies by industry blue chips in manufacturing, oil and gas, healthcare, sustainable buildings . . . 30 breakout sessions on everything from security to standards . . . to the eye-opening walking tours of Dubai’s Smart City services in lighting, parking and waste management made possible by a horizontal digital platform.

For me, the defining moment of the IoTWF, any year, is always the selection of the ultimate winners of our annual Innovation Grand Challenge. These are the ingenious few who are leveraging the full power of IoT to help all of us take its potential for social and economic value to the next level. They are showing us glimpses of the future they will most certainly help to shape.

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OpenFog Consortium Gains Momentum as Fog Picks Up Steam

This week, I’m joining leaders from industry, academia, and government at the Internet of Things World Forum (#IoTWF) in Dubai, and fog computing is a hot topic in many of our discussions. As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more pervasive in our homes, cars, city services, and across industries, fog computing will become an essential technology for capturing value in many IoT use cases.

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Anil Menon President, Smart + Connected Communities at Cisco and John Defterios, Emerging Market Editor with CNN talk briefly about the newly formed OpenFog Consortium at the IoTWF.

That is why I am particularly happy to be representing the OpenFog Consortium, as well as Cisco, at this global event. The consortium was formed to accelerate the deployment of fog technologies and to provide industry and academic leadership in developing fog computing frameworks and architectures. Cisco has been working for many months with the other founding members—Intel, Microsoft, Dell, ARM, and Princeton University—to form this new industry body. Since our announcement of the OpenFog Consortium on November 19, interest has gained momentum and there is now a healthy pipeline of new members in the process of joining.

Exciting possibilities of a fog approach are coming to life in Barcelona, Spain. Last week, I participated in a live demo of a proof of concept project that brings together a number of disparate smart city services within a single unified architecture, rather than in disconnected, siloed efforts. Barcelona has been working for several years to develop “smart” urban services, including lighting, traffic management, event-based video, and on-demand connectivity. For the most part, however, these services have been developed and deployed independently by different city departments—resulting in a dazzling array of sensors, gateways, repeaters, and other devices positioned on poles, posts, and walls around the city. The proof of concept project consolidates and integrates these separate systems in secure, strategically placed outdoor cabinets, and provides a single-screen view to monitor and manage data, applications, virtual switches and routers, fog nodes, fog services, and the network. This project represents a paradigm shift for smart city services, leveraging both cloud and fog capabilities to integrate a rich set of use cases on a multi-vendor software platform.

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Job One: Securing IoT

Recently, I participated in the panel on Internet of Things (IoT) security as part of the Automation Perspectives media event hosted by Rockwell Automation, just prior to Automation Fair 2015 in Chicago. It is clear that the ability to deal effectively with security threats is the No. 1 make-or-break factor for IoT adoption. With this reluctance to implement IoT, companies will not benefit from the growing number of powerful IoT use cases that are emerging across all industries, which includes the digital revolution in manufacturing, where there is an identified 12.8 percent profit upside over three years for manufacturers that digitize.

IoT is now part of the very fabric of industry and the public infrastructure, including such essential services as transportation, the power grid, the water supply, and public safety. When these systems are compromised, the damage can go far beyond financial loss. Some examples in years following the Great Recession:

  • 2008 – A 14-year-old Polish boy hacked a local tram system, disrupting traffic, derailing trams, and injuring 12 passengers
  • 2009 – Due to a failure in the automated control system, a Washington D.C. Metrorail train struck the rear of a stopped train, resulting in death and injury
  • 2014 – An overflow of wastewater at a water treatment plant was due to suspected unauthorized employ access

In recent years, there have also been hacks on nuclear power plants, transportation systems, and connected cars. No one wants their company to show up on the front page of the paper as a cyberattack victim. In addition to the physical impacts, attack vectors on IoT security can cause losses that are less immediately perceptible—but very real and lasting—including downtime, brand damage, breach of trust, and theft of intellectual property.

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