Co-Innovation. Hyper-Collaboration. Sharing Economy.

Whatever you call it, it’s clear to me that the global community of innovators around the Internet of Things (IoT) keeps accelerating — rapidly and exponentially. I have personally experienced this disruptive growth in just the past three months, especially in how co-innovators are focusing more and more on solutions for the public and private sectors.

I wrote here three months ago that I anticipated greater participation in Cisco’s 2nd annual Innovation Grand Challenge, which we launched on June 22nd. I was expecting solid, steady growth of entries in key industry markets, such as Manufacturing, Smart Cities and Energy/Utilities.

But we were completely overwhelmed by the response!

Alex Internet of ThingsBy the time entries were closed two weeks ago (Sept. 7), we had received more than 3,000 entries in more than 100 countries from startups, incubators, entrepreneurs and independent developers. That’s three times the number of submissions as the first year of the competition and more than all four of our annual Grand Challenges combined. The top 10 countries with the most entries reflect the geographic scope and diversity of IoT innovation: United States, India, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Mexico, the Russia, and Indonesia.

In the past three months, we stepped up efforts to amplify this year’s Innovation Grand Challenge, which deepened connections and partnerships with 150 of the top accelerators, incubators and thought leaders in the startup community. Our social media communications reached some 11 million people, we had more than 635,000 clicks on the Innovation Grand Challenge web site and more than 41,000 Likes on our posts.

Combined with the quantity and quality of this year’s entries, it’s abundantly clear that Cisco’s digital, network platform continues to attract more and more of the world’s top talent in trailblazing IoT solutions for vertical markets.

Who will emerge as this year’s top IoT innovators from among the 3,000 submissions? We’re now in the middle of the next phase of the competition. A jury of industry thought leaders, strategic partners and Cisco executives is evaluating the entries now around five key focus areas essential to the IoT (r)evolution: Infrastructure, Middleware, Platform and Frameworks, Applications, Security, and Fog/Edge Computing.

On Oct. 5, we will announce 15 semi-finalists, who will be required to provide more information on their business models, prototypes and plans in jury pitches like on television’s Shark Tank. The three finalists, who will gain market development opportunities and $250,000 in awards, will be named on Dec. 7th during this year’s IoT World Forum. In its third year, the IoT World Forum, held this year at the Dubai World Trade Centre, has proven to be the industry summit to advance IoT and showcase ground-breaking innovations.

The ultimate success of the winners as well as the IoT and the Internet of Everything market – a $19T economic opportunity involving the connection of people, process, data and things – really hinges on:

  • Co-Innovation among network operators, technology partners and startup developers
  • Hyper-Collaboration in an open community of technology providers and vertical market end-users
  • Sharing Economy in which experience, expertise and resources are exchanged for the betterment of society

So whatever you want to call it, these trends are converging around the Innovation Grand Challenge, which is clearly accelerating rapidly and exponentially.

Stay tuned for more developments soon!


Alex Goryachev

Senior Director, Innovation Strategy & Programs

Corporate Strategic Innovation Group