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Cisco Supports Tech Entrepreneurs in Jordan

It is Sunday night in Amman, Jordan, and the Jordanian startup scene keeps moving full steam ahead at an event called Dealmakers Weekend, organized by Endeavor, a nonprofit that supports high-impact entrepreneurship and Int@j, a nonprofit representing the Jordan IT industry. The cream of the local startup crop were paired up all day in matchmaking sessions with local and international investors in hopes of creating lasting relationships.

One of the startups, Mixed Dimensions (MXD), is representative of the new breed of company emerging from the local ecosystem. Founded in 2009, MXD is a technology and tools provider for platform developers, gaming companies and interactive 3D online application developers. Its co-founders, Muhannad Taslaq and Baha Abu Nojaim, are examples of the diverse entrepreneurs Jordan is producing. Born and bred in Jordan and of Palestinian origin, they are graduates of Jordanian universities and active participants in promoting grassroots technology entrepreneurship in Jordan.

Unlike many startups in Jordan and the region overall, MXD’s vision extends far beyond its home country’s borders. Having begun its journey at the iPARK, an ICT incubator in Amman, MXD was from day one building technology targeted at a global audience. Its flagship product, a 3D asset development tool called GameDraw built for the Unity gaming engine, is used by over 16,000 game developers in 110 countries (as of January 2014). The company has expanded its global footprint, completing the Alchemist Accelerator program in Silicon Valley in August 2013 and venturing into new technology niches within 3D modeling and development.

MXD will become one of the first portfolio companies of the Badia Impact Fund, which announced its first close February 24 with Cisco (as part of our 2011 Venture Capital Commitment to Jordan), European Investment Bank, and King Abdullah Fund for Development.

GameDraw is the flagship product of Jordan start-up Mixed Dimensions. It is a 3D asset development tool built for the Unity gaming engine that is currently used by over 16,000 game developers in 110 countries .

GameDraw is the flagship product of Jordan start-up Mixed Dimensions. It is a 3D asset development tool built for the Unity gaming engine that is currently used by over 16,000 game developers in 110 countries .

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Cisco’s Palestine Investment Commitment Featured in Forbes Magazine

August 13, 2013 at 7:30 am PST

The August 12 issue of Forbes magazine features Cisco’s investment to fuel job creation and economic development in the Palestinian information and communications technology (ICT) industry.

Cisco CEO John Chambers on the cover of Forbes

After visiting Ramallah in 2008, Cisco CEO John Chambers pledged to help develop the ICT sector in the Palestinian Territories.

“We do this because we want to change the world. And we don’t do it on a small scale. It’s nice to help a village, but the key is how do you help a country?” Cisco CEO John Chambers says in Forbes.

In 2008, Cisco began outsourcing projects from its Israeli office to three companies in the Palestine Territories. Those firms have since reported a 65 percent increase in their workforces.

Forbes contributor Richard Behar writes, “Cisco’s efforts created a ripple effect, bringing in other American tech giants, which also use their Israel offices to work across the border. And as U.S. companies got Palestinian companies comfortable with working with entities based in Israel, large Israeli tech companies have been able to establish relationships, too. … HP now outsources some of its research and development to the West Bank. Microsoft Israel has started putting Palestinian engineers in Ramallah on its payroll.”

Indeed, according to a June 2012 report on the Palestinian Investment Commitment by Mission Measurement, Palestinian ICT firms reported a 64 percent increase in international client work from 2009 to 2012.

Cisco ultimately contributed US$15 million to the initiative, including millions of dollars in incubation, venture capital, and equity funding for ICT companies, and a capacity building program for entrepreneurs.

Read the complete Forbes article featuring Cisco’s Palestine Investment Commitment.

In a separate piece, Behar describes Cisco’s Tamkeen.net capacity building program for Palestinian entrepreneurs, which provides training and mentoring for CEOs and managers. Behar attended two of the training sessions “in rooms filled with Palestinian CEOs and mid-level managers being coached by Israeli Jewish tech experts.” Seventy Palestinians from 24 different companies have participated in 100 days of trainings since 2011.

Read about the Tamkeen.net capacity building program in Forbes.

The video below features Tareq Maayah, founder of Ramallah-based Exalt Technologies, one of the three companies that undertook outsourcing work from Cisco.

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Digital Britain: The True Meaning of Innovation in Action

June 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm PST

When you hear or see the term innovation, what does it make you think of next?  Is it a start-up, a product, a large corporate — or something else?

The term innovation is overused so much in today’s business world that I am getting tired of reading about it.  People have included the word on their LinkedIn profiles “…I am an innovative individual…’’

Are you, really?  What have you done that proves this statement? What new business venture have you started, or new product did you invent?

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Cisco BIG Awards: Calling All UK Entrepreneurs

May 20, 2013 at 11:13 am PST

It’s incredible to think that we are only a month away from closing entries for this year’s BIG Awards. This is the second BIG Awards competition we have run in the UK since the British Innovation Gateway programme was announced in January 2011 by Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The annual open innovation competition identifies and offers financial and mentor support for the next generation of the UK’s digital entrepreneurs and startup companies.

It seems like yesterday that we were at the top of the Gherkin, launching this year’s competition and hearing about the great progress that last year’s winners – Snap Fashion, Digital Shadows, and Six 3 – have made over the past 6 months. Now the sun has come out (briefly), the football season is over, and we start to think about summer and the announcement of our 20 short-listed semi-finalists.

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The BIG Awards 2013: a Celebration of UK Innovation

May 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm PST

Once again, we’re preparing for the exciting Cisco British Innovation Gateway (BIG) awards. Here’s some guidance about the on-going competition – to stimulate some thoughts around this year’s opportunity to recognise Britain’s entrepreneurs.

It’s amazing when I think back to when the BIG awards where first discussed, as apart of our legacy around Cisco’s involvement in the London 2012 Olympics. We are now into our second year, and trying to be as balanced as I can be, it has been a very beneficial journey for all concerned. Read More »

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