The Internet of Everything (IoE) is not only disrupting traditional business models, it is also disrupting innovation itself.

While the focus at this week’s 2nd annual Internet of Things World Forum (IOTWF) here in Chicago is on capturing the accelerated opportunity of connected things, we believe there is even greater opportunity with the Internet of Everything: the networked connection of people, processes, data AND things. IoE is already transforming business outcomes, but in order to capture the full potential of its $19 trillion economic opportunity we will need to cultivate new skill sets and ways of thinking by both established organizations and 21st century entrepreneurs.

Innovating with local communities

This, in turn, requires new types of collaborations and investment mechanisms among industry, government and academia to incubate innovative ideas and turn them into commercial, scalable solutions for the betterment of society.

I am very proud of one such exemplary collaboration between the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) program, led by Mala Anand, SVP of Services Platforms (“Open innovation: Harnessing the ideas, talent and passion of the startup eco-system”), and the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE), a startup incubator affiliated with the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and other leading technology organizations in the greater Chicago area. This partnership, announced last April, aims to support the most promising early-stage startups in the region that are focused on game-changing IoE and Smart Cities solutions by bringing the expertise and resources of Cisco and CIE in a co-incubation environment.

Chicago Innovation Center + Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence First Startup in Chicago

During ceremonies earlier today at the grand opening of CIE’s highly anticipated new facility, I had the pleasure of joining Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer and CIE Executive Director John Flavin to personally acknowledge the first startup to join the co-incubation program of Cisco and CIE – Embedor Technologies.

Spun out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Research Park, Embedor’s IoE solution enables continuous real-time structural health monitoring of civil infrastructure, such as bridges, by using wireless smart sensors linked to the Internet. As a result, infrastructure owners can improve the reliability of inspections, reduce maintenance costs and reduce catastrophic bridge failures.

Embedor will receive strategic funding and mentoring from domain experts and access to resources, including CIE’s local co-working space. We are excited about this opportunity to partner with a startup that has the potential to accelerate our Smart Cities strategy and to further catalyze the entrepreneurial momentum building in Chicago.

Cisco knows the emerging IoE opportunity is too vast, complex and new for any one organization to develop alone. The journey must be a collaborative effort by an ecosystem, and startups have a particularly important role to play. Cisco EIR is connecting Cisco with high-potential IoE startups in key innovation hubs around the world, including Silicon Valley, Chicago, San Diego and Central Europe (Vienna, Austria).

In addition to the EIR program, Cisco nurtures innovation and entrepreneurs through Cisco Centers of Innovation (six announced and more on the way), the IoE Venture Fund (invested in 18 companies globally in the past 12 months), an ecosystem of developer communities, the IoT/IoE Grand Challenges and Hackathons.

Cisco passionately believes that IoE is the biggest technological inflection point in modern history – bigger than the Internet itself. It will take a collective effort globally and locally to help accelerate this unprecedented opportunity to improve the way we live, work, play and learn.

Twitter: @wimelfrink


Wim Elfrink

Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief

Globalisation Officer