Cisco’s leadership in the emerging market for the Internet of Everything (IoE), Smart Cities and Big Data/analytics rests on our ability to harness the technologies and business models of our global partner ecosystem – especially those of early-stage startups who are building truly disruptive capabilities for the future. I previously shared my vision of Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) pioneering new ways for Cisco, already a successful innovator in the global IT space, to collaborate with innovative entrepreneurs in shaping the emerging technologies that will redefine our industry and change our lives. Since then, six startups joined our first incubation track last spring in Silicon Valley and began collaborating closely with Cisco business and engineering groups to co-create solutions for Cisco’s customers and partners. I shared various updates in the following months about the EIR program’s exciting milestones adding co-incubation partners across the US, taking the program to Europe and selecting the first startups to join our program there.

Today, I am pleased to share two more milestones marking the continued success of our open innovation strategy at Cisco, with Cisco EIR helping to lead the way.

Cisco EIR Demo Day 2014

On December 8th, 2014, we celebrated the successes of the startups in our inaugural cohort with our first Cisco EIR Demo Day (photos) a gathering of over 100 attendees, including Cisco business and technology leaders, VCs, partners and others from the Silicon Valley startup community.

The event was a spectacular success. Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president for Services at Cisco, delivered the event keynote describing why it was critical for Cisco to continually tap into the ideas and culture of the startup ecosystem. Presentations from the founders of Crowdx, DGLogik, Pawaa, PetaSecure, Nuviso and SecureWaters highlighted the great strides they each made collaborating with Cisco teams to accelerate the development and market-readiness of their products through the Cisco EIR program. We could not be more pleased with the phenomenal accomplishments of this first group of entrepreneurs in such a short period of time. It was exciting to see startup innovation matched to where the market transitions are taking place in IoE, data everywhere and anytime, mobile, cloud and security – all areas strategically vital to Cisco.

A highlight of our Demo Day was the participation of our expert panelists – Mar Hershenson (founding managing partner of Pejman Mar Ventures), Mark Leahy (partner at Fenwick & West), Matt Cutler (cofounder and former CEO of Collaborate.com and currently director of product management at Cisco), Pankaj Srivastava (vice president of Software Solutions and Platforms at Cisco) and Janey Hoe (director of Corporate Development at Cisco) – who provided insightful feedback to each of the startups.

I congratulate each of the six companies that started this journey with us last spring. Each company made tremendous strides during their time in Cisco EIR exploring joint go-to-market opportunities with Cisco while refining their product development in collaboration with Cisco technology and product groups. This active exploration of joint opportunities will not stop with the end of the six-month program – the companies continue to work closely with their Cisco executive sponsors and mentors. Just one promising example of this collaboration can be seen in our recent Connected Analytics for the Internet of Everything launch with technology from DGLogik embedded into the core of this important new Cisco initiative.

You can learn more about all six companies in our new Entrepreneur Spotlight video series.

Bigger innovation push: An expanded lineup of startups joins Cisco EIR

We were pleased two weeks ago to announce the six latest companies joining Cisco EIR in the US. Four companies – ParStream (press release), PLAT.ONE (press release), Preferred Networks and Measurence – are joining our flagship program in Silicon Valley. Two other companies are coming onboard as part of our “CiscoEIR@” joint-incubation strategy with our regional partners. Koriist is joining us in San Diego via CiscoEIR@EvoNexus, our partner program with EvoNexus. Embedor Technologies is joining us in Chicago as part of CiscoEIR@CIE, our program with the Chicago Innovation Exchange. These six companies join the five startups –Flatout, Graphmasters, ICE Gateway, MammothDB and Mentat Innovations – now kicking off their incubation with Cisco EIR in Europe.

Our combined cohort of 11 companies in the US and Europe brings what we consider to be among the “best of the best” in IoE, Smart Cities and Big Data/analytics technologies. We are thrilled at the innovative potential of this expanded cohort and its focus on our key domains. You will be hearing more about each of these companies as they spend the next six months co-creating solutions to pursue joint customer opportunities with the best business and technology minds at Cisco.

See photos from Cisco Live in Milan where we showcased several of our new entrepreneurs – and be sure to join us at Cisco Live in San Diego in June for an opportunity to learn more about Cisco EIR and our participating startups.

Creating an open innovation ecosystem

Truly harnessing open innovation with startups requires more than Cisco alone – it requires an ecosystem of partners in the startup community to make it happen. We are once again partnering with EvoNexus to invite startups in Southern California innovating in IoE, Big Data/analytics, cloud services, enterprise mobility and related areas to apply for the next CiscoEIR@EvoNexus cohort. Look for updates soon about our CiscoEIR@Fresno joint incubation program in collaboration with the Lyles Center at Fresno State as we identify top-caliber startups applying IoE and Big Data technologies to the agribusiness sector. We will also be announcing winners of the Cisco + Kairos IoE Innovation Challenge now underway in partnership with the Kairos Society, an organization supporting young entrepreneurs.

Our goal with Cisco EIR is to leverage the program as a catalyst to bring open innovation into Cisco and make it part of our DNA. With one successful cohort behind us but still very much co-innovating with Cisco as our alumni – and with an even larger new cohort joining us in the US and Europe, I cannot wait to see what we can achieve with these startups in 2015.


Mala Anand

No Longer with Cisco