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UK Economic Development: What’s the BIG idea?

February 10, 2012 - 0 Comments

We are one year on from the announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron and Cisco CEO John Chambers of the Cisco-led British Innovation Gateway (BIG) programme.

Since then we’ve been busy setting the foundations for our five year commitment to supporting innovation and economic growth in the UK.  We now have this new website and BIG is beginning to come to fruition.

What great timing!  Cisco’s crucial role as the official network infrastructure provider for London 2012 is the ideal opportunity to show the world our commitment to entrepreneurship, innovation and education – BIG is the living, breathing and growing legacy of Cisco’s investment in young people, communities and small businesses.

Why the BIG Initiative Matters

So why is Cisco committed to BIG?  Put simply, BIG is about discovering, enabling and nurturing the businesses and talent of tomorrow.  Here are three key reasons why.

Firstly, BIG is about the future.

Building a Brilliant Future” is Cisco’s programme to create an enduring social and economic legacy from our sponsorship of London 2012.  Alongside major educational initiatives to inspire future generations of UK entrepreneurs and innovators, BIG will also support today’s businesspeople across the UK.

Secondly, innovation is central to everything Cisco does and stands for.

It’s in our corporate DNA.  Having grown to 60,000 people in 25 years, we are part of the digital revolution and our success hinges on ‘connecting and collaborating to innovate.’  With our backing, BIG won’t just enable individuals to build new businesses, but will also strengthen the fabric of the UK’s ‘innovation ecosystem’ and help position it at the forefront of borderless, digitally-enabled innovation in the 21st century.

Thirdly, BIG reinforces the UK as Cisco’s second largest market.

Adding our impetus to develop the innovation economy in the UK is in our own long-term interests — the UK’s success is our success.  Becoming a major supporter, enabler and partner to UK innovators will also afford us better access to great new ideas, many of which we are certain will be relevant to our core business and may well be things in which we want to directly invest.

What will BIG look like?

Geographically, physically and virtually, this is the shape of BIG:

  • Innovation Centres, starting with Shoreditch in 2012
  • National Virtual Incubator in partnership with JaNET, Birmingham Science Park Aston, Ravensborne and Greenwich Council features ‘NVI nodes’ in Birmingham and Greenwich with many more joining this network in 2012
  • BIG Awards – launching on 1 February, a national innovation competition drawing on the successful Cisco i-Prize – the search for future major business ideas

On top of this, we are creating exciting new innovation partnerships such as the Future Cities Centre we are developing with UCL and Imperial College.  Then there are the targeted innovation programmes with public sector partners, such as the iCity and CADI programmes which we’ll be sharing more information about soon.

What will make BIG a success?

We’re confident that BIG will deliver tremendous benefits for the UK and Cisco — the key ingredients are ideas and energy, engagement and participation.  By making connections and collaborating with entrepreneurs and innovators — plus the people, organisations and institutions that support and enable them — we can forge ahead.

BIG is led by Cisco, but if you reside in the UK then it’s also your opportunity.  Think of it as a stepping stone for ideas and to achieve your ambitions, aspirations and business success. Working together we can do so much more, so get involved and join our exciting journey.

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