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Accelerating open innovation on all fronts at Cisco

- November 6, 2014 - 0 Comments

I introduced Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) earlier this year as a cornerstone in our strategy of embracing open innovation at Cisco. I also shared how we were extending Cisco EIR and open innovation across the US through local incubation partners, and I announced the launch of Cisco EIR in Europe. Now I would like to share updates on the great progress we are making with Cisco EIR as a catalyst of open innovation at Cisco.

Startups Selected to Join Cisco EIR in Europe

Last week we were excited to announce the six startups that will be joining our Cisco EIR program in Europe at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. The six winners – innovating in the areas of Smart Cities, Internet of Everything (IoE)/cloud and Big Data/analytics – were chosen through a rigorous multiphase selection process conducted in collaboration with Pioneers. More than 350 applicants from 39 countries applied to join Cisco EIR Europe, with 15 finalists pitching live at the Pioneers Festival in front of Cisco experts and our European partners. Winners were selected based on the viability of their business plans, the strength of their teams and their alignment with Cisco’s IoE vision and strategy.

We were impressed beyond our expectations by the vision, passion, talent and technology of all 15 finalists. These startups made us more excited and convinced than ever that Europe was the right platform to discover and nurture the next generation of disruptive ideas for our industry and for Cisco.

Photos: Cisco EIR @ Pioneers Festival

The winning teams are:

Dataiku (France): Big Data and analytics startup offering a software workspace for business analysts and data scientists called Data Science Studio (DSS) that aggregates everything needed to get from raw data to production-ready applications.

Flatout (Austria): Startup offering affordable and easy-to-use “Smart Home as a Service” solutions to businesses interested in entering the connected living market.

Graphmasters (Germany): Smart City startup and maker of the Nunav navigation app that uses Cloud-based routing to reduce traffic jams by providing centralized routing decisions and precise, personalized driving instructions.

ICE Gateway (Germany): Developer of an outdoor wireless infrastructure that serves as a communication platform for Smart City applications, including parking, lighting, location-based services and more.

MammothDB (Bulgaria): Creator of an inexpensive and enterprise-ready alternative to traditional data warehousing and business analytics solutions that leverages the power of Hadoop while maintaining the benefits of SQL.

Mentat Innovations (Greece, UK): Provider of machine learning and data analytics technology with immediate applicability in areas including cybersecurity, defense and intelligence, retail, Web analytics and healthcare.

The six startups will enter Cisco EIR Europe’s inaugural cohort in January 2015. The companies will receive strategic funding*, mentoring, co-working space and, most importantly, a potential opportunity to collaborate closely with Cisco’s engineering, product and go-to-market teams.

Cisco press release: Cisco Announces Winners of the First Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Program in Europe at The Pioneers Festival, Vienna

Cisco EIR in Silicon Valley Success Stories

One of the biggest differentiators of Cisco EIR vis-à-vis regular accelerators and incubators is our focus on developing long-term strategic relationships between Cisco and each of our participating startups.  We view the six months of “in residence” incubation as the beginning of a relationship rather than an experience from which to “graduate.”  To this end, each startup starts its Cisco EIR incubation with a Cisco executive sponsor – and the executive acts as the lead advocate to (1) enable the entrepreneur to partner with the right Cisco team(s), (2) help drive technology and market validation and (3) do his/her best to get the idea significant internal and external traction.

Several of the startups that joined our Spring 2014 cohort in Silicon Valley last spring have made great strides in all three of these areas, partnering with Cisco on important initiatives and customer opportunities.

Here is what two of our entrepreneurs had to say about their experience to date:

“Pawaa, as a startup, did not previously have the brand recognition to convince customers to adopt a new security product inside their organization – no matter how compelling the features. The Cisco EIR program, and the ability to work with Cisco technical and product teams, changed that, enabling us to accelerate our growth and attract top-tier customers.” – Prakash Baskaran, founder and CEO of Pawaa.

“Cisco EIR has given Crowdx an exciting opportunity to collaborate with Cisco, a market leader, to enhance our telco analytics and network optimization platform through collaboration with Cisco mentors and Cisco business and engineering groups. Since joining the program, we have been able to secure our first paying customers and started to grow our business.” – Amit Lubovsky, founder and VP of business development and marketing at Crowdx.

As our Spring 2014 cohort draws to a close, we are in the process of selecting a new lineup of entrepreneurs for our Fall 2014 cohort.  Stay tuned for more.

Our “CiscoEIR@” Strategy – Seeking Innovators Far and Wide

In addition to Cisco EIR in Silicon Valley and Europe, we have been busy extending our footprint to other innovation hubs around the US.  Our strategy – which we call “CiscoEIR@” – is to develop our outreach and incubation capability rapidly through local co-incubation partners.

Our current CiscoEIR@ programs:

  • CiscoEIR@CIE – Wim Elfrink’s recent blog post highlighted Cisco EIR’s partnership with the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE) at the University of Chicago. The first company selected to join CiscoEIR@CIE in Chicago is Embedor Technologies, an early-stage IoE startup with a wireless solution to monitor the structural soundness of bridges and other civil infrastructure.
  • CiscoEIR@EvoNexus  – We joined with CommNexus, a non-profit startup incubator in Southern California, to launch CiscoEIR@EvoNexus, a joint incubation program designed to accelerate the growth of emerging companies in the San Diego region innovating in Cisco’s strategic areas. The startups selected to join the launch of this program will be announced soon.
  • CiscoEIR@Fresno  –  Last but not least, we just announced CiscoEIR@Fresno, a joint-incubation program with three local partners supporting early-stage entrepreneurs in California’s Central Valley. We are particularly intrigued by IoT/IoE technologies applied in the agribusiness sector.

Looking Ahead

Cisco EIR is an example of how we at Cisco continue to reinvent ourselves, our industry and the world around us. We believe a key element of success in our transformation is to join hands with and learn from startup communities worldwide.

*Subject to due diligence and successful completion of agreements

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