Who is innovating the next big thing? Where are they? Will it be you?

Whether in a garage, lab, university, startup or coffee shop, we at Cisco are searching the world over for entrepreneurs developing the next innovative game-changers around the Internet of Things (IoT).

How will we find you?alexbloginnovationgrandchallengepic1

On Monday, June 22, we launched the second annual Innovation Grand Challenge to discover the latest and greatest IoT innovators over the next six months. We’re enticing them out of the shadows and into the spotlight with $250,000 in total prizes and $150,000 to the overall winner. Further, winners will gain access to Cisco’s IoE Centers of Innovation, premier resources, mentorships and vast opportunities with partners and investors to change the way we live, work, play and learn.

When will we identify the winners?

The submission period runs from June 22 through Sept. 7, with the top three innovators to be announced on Dec. 7 at the IoT World Forum in Dubai. Information about guidelines and submitting entries can be found here.

What happens if you’re an Innovation Grand Challenge winner?

“We could not have dreamed of the traction” since winning the first Innovation Grand Challenge last November at the IoT World Forum in Chicago, said Jackson Bond, founder of relayr, which captured the $125,000 first prize for its IoT startup kit and platform for software developers. Today, relayr has 2,000 developers on its platform, outperformed Q1 revenue targets by 100 percent, tripled its workforce to 30 and has experienced a bulging pipeline of customers.

“Working closely with Cisco has been an invaluable experience,” added Felix Bauer, CEO of Aircloak, a first-of-breed provider of “anonymizing analytics” that protects data privacy, and which was one of last year’s prize recipients. “They (Cisco) have introduced us to numerous business divisions but also to Cisco partners and customers. This really helped us refine our story and business model. Being able to tell investors we are working with Cisco doesn’t hurt either!”

Helping passionate, next-generation entrepreneurs to jumpstart and accelerate progress like this around Cisco’s network platform makes me deliriously excited about this year’s the Innovation Grand Challenge. We are building on the success of last year’s inaugural Innovation Challenge by reaching out to even more incubator communities to cultivate a growing innovation ecosystem around IoT.


Last year, Cisco’s Challenges attracted more than 1,000 entries from more than 170 countries. I anticipate an even greater response this year.

This year’s Innovation Grand Challenge seeks submissions in five key focus areas of connected technology that are essential to global digitization and the advancement of IoT. These include Infrastructure, Middleware, Platform and Frameworks, Applications, Security, and Fog/Edge Computing within key verticals such as Manufacturing, Smart Cities and Energy/Utilities.

IoT and IoE are massively complex market transitions, requiring hyper collaboration with partners, customers and, perhaps most significantly — the developer community. I can’t wait to discover this year’s most promising talent and help them to unleash the value of their ingenious innovations.

Innovators should submit their entries as soon as possible before the Sept. 7 deadline for the first round by registering here. You can also follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag, #InnovationChallenge, or by following my Twitter handle @AGoryachevAlex.

I wish all participants great fun and fortune as the Innovation Grand Challenge gets under way!



Alex Goryachev

Senior Director, Innovation Strategy & Programs

Corporate Strategic Innovation Group