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Reinventing Innovation to Capture the Internet of Everything Opportunity

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is not only disrupting traditional business models, it is also disrupting innovation itself.

While the focus at this week’s 2nd annual Internet of Things World Forum (IOTWF) here in Chicago is on capturing the accelerated opportunity of connected things, we believe there is even greater opportunity with the Internet of Everything: the networked connection of people, processes, data AND things. IoE is already transforming business outcomes, but in order to capture the full potential of its $19 trillion economic opportunity we will need to cultivate new skill sets and ways of thinking by both established organizations and 21st century entrepreneurs.

Innovating with local communities

This, in turn, requires new types of collaborations and investment mechanisms among industry, government and academia to incubate innovative ideas and turn them into commercial, scalable solutions for the betterment of society.

I am very proud of one such exemplary collaboration between the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) program, led by Mala Anand, SVP of Services Platforms (“Open innovation: Harnessing the ideas, talent and passion of the startup eco-system”), and the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE), a startup incubator affiliated with the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and other leading technology organizations in the greater Chicago area. This partnership, announced last April, aims to support the most promising early-stage startups in the region that are focused on game-changing IoE and Smart Cities solutions by bringing the expertise and resources of Cisco and CIE in a co-incubation environment.

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Launching Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence in Europe

I recently wrote about how we are extending Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR)  and our open innovation strategy beyond Silicon Valley through local incubation partners in Chicago, San Diego and Berkeley.  Our presence in these innovation hubs will enable us to discover, influence and learn from new ideas and talent at early-stage startups with potential to disrupt our industry.

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of Cisco EIR Europe, extending our program to a non-U.S. innovation hub for the first time.  Cisco EIR will be located initially in Vienna, where we plan to launch a small cohort of early-stage European startups by January 2015 – to be supported & incubated by Cisco – drawn from across EMEAR.  As with Cisco EIR in Silicon Valley, we will look for game-changing entrepreneurs in IoE, security, Big Data/analytics, Smart Cities & other transformational opportunities that are in Cisco’s strategic line of sight.  Also as in our Silicon Valley program, the startups will be supported by Cisco engineering & product teams as well as our EMEAR partner ecosystem.  The Vienna-based program is intended to serve as the beachhead – our “Phase 1” – for a broader EU-wide footprint for Cisco EIR.

Key to our success is how we leverage the startup ecosystem that already exists in Europe.  To this end, starting in Vienna, we have partnered with Pioneers, a leading startup community organization in Europe.  More partnerships are in the works.

I know all of you will agree innovation knows no national boundaries.  Europe, with its deep entrepreneurial talent, large market and history of innovation, presents a unique opportunity for usEurope is also one of the key regions for our Smart Cities – as you saw from our recent announcement of a new Smart Cities initiative in Copenhagen, following similar projects in Barcelona, Amsterdam Chicago and Hamburg.

We are thrilled to forge relationships in the European startup community – and support entrepreneurs as partners in open innovation.

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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.

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Open innovation: Harnessing the ideas, talent and passion of the startup eco-system

What does an already innovative company like Cisco do more to innovate?  What do we need to do differently to influence or shape the next breakthrough that will fundamentally change our industry and Cisco?  As we embark on a journey to transform Cisco into a #1 IT solution provider, we know we must innovate more and faster – and spot the next industry-shaping change before it catches our industry off-guard.

We believe one of the key strategies for reinventing innovation at Cisco is to embrace openness.  Open innovation is a concept developed and evangelized by leading organizational experts, including Dr. Henry Chesbrough, the Executive Director of the Program in Open Innovation at UC Berkeley.  It focuses on how organizations can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas – and internal and external paths to market1.  Open innovation enables us to stay abreast of and shape the next big change that is going to impact Cisco and our industry.

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