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Open Innovation Everywhere: Extending Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence to Innovation Hubs across the U.S

Back in March, I wrote about Cisco’s continued focus on innovation and my personal goal of accelerating innovation by making openness part of our DNA. Similarly, at the recent Cisco Live event in San Francisco, I talked about the incredible Inertnet of Everything (IoE) journey in front of us and offered a few examples of what that future might hold. The IoE future of hyper-connected devices, people, data and processes will see retail, manufacturing, public services and health care fundamentally changed—and our lives made richer and safer. Today, we stand at the dawn of a revolution, and innovation will continue to lead the way.

With both internal and external programs to feed innovation, Cisco aims to nurture disruptive ideas. In this light, we are using our new startup innovation program, Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR), to spur open innovation and drive Cisco’s own leadership position in the emerging IoE opportunity.

The Entrepreneurs in Residence program offers financial support, access to a co-working space, basic software tools and a potential opportunity to collaborate with Cisco product or engineering teams. Each cohort lasts six months, and startups are selected through a rigorous multi-phase selection process that evaluates the viability of their business plans, the strength of their teams and their alignment with Cisco’s strategic focus.

Applications are open. Will you join the six startups that are currently in residence and collaborating with Cisco? Our first Cisco EIR cohort is off and running with some early results:

“Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence allows us to closely collaborate with Cisco teams in a way that would have been impossible as an early-stage company,” said Prakash Baskaran, CEO of Pawaa Software, Inc. “Pawaa provides a technology platform that persistently secures and encrypts files and documents across the enterprise, on mobile devices and in the cloud. Working with Cisco has helped us refine our go-to-market strategy and significantly expand our potential customer base.”

“Being part of Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence has enabled us to work with Cisco’s engineering and business experts as well as Cisco’s partners in a way that has helped us take our Internet of Everything data solution to more customers, faster,” said Eugene Mazo, CEO of DGLogik, Inc. “We have also benefited from the opportunities to get wider exposure to the Silicon Valley startup eco-system, including venture capital investors, analysts and other entrepreneurs.”

To keep pace with the growing IoE opportunity, we continue to extend Cisco EIR to new regions and communities. Today, we have Cisco EIR in 3 cities outside Silicon Valley – all through partnerships with local incubators.

One partnership I am particularly excited about is with Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE). Together, CIE and Cisco EIR are:

  • Launching “CiscoEIR@CIE” in Chicago, a small cohort of IoE startups to be housed in CIE’s Hyde Park co-working space this fall.
  • Building a new eco-system of IoE entrepreneurs in Chicago, drawing talent from the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Computation Institute, Northwestern University and local startup accelerators.
  • Partnering to help make our upcoming IoT World Forum in Chicago a resounding success.

Another partnership I am excited about is with EvoNexus, a leading San Diego startup incubator that boasts 32 startup “graduates” and 7 acquisitions since 2009.  Together, EvoNexus and Cisco EIR are:

  • Launching “CiscoEIR@EvoNexus” in San Diego, a small cohort of startups to be housed in the downtown San Diego co-working space of EvoNexus later this year.
  • Tapping into the rich technology talent of San Diego, particularly in the areas of defense and mobility which have strong relevance for IoE applications.

Last but not least, we are partnering with UC Berkeley SkyDeck, a startup incubator affiliated with UC Berkeley.  Together, SkyDeck and Cisco EIR are:

  • Launching a program to cultivate start up innovation similar to CiscoEIR@CIE and CiscoEIR@EvoNexus.
  • Tapping into the talent of UC Berkeley, including its researchers, faculty members and alumni.

I know we have yet to reach many more innovation hubs across the country and around the world, and we are working hard to make that happen. Learn more about our Fall 2014 Cohort application and stay tuned for more.

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