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Entrepreneurs: Your Invitation to Innovate with Cisco in Europe – Second Season Application Now Open

It was only last November that I wrote about our first Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) cohort in Europe. I knew then we had started something special – an incubation model that allows Cisco to tap into the immense talent of the European startup community and helps address many of the unique challenges entrepreneurs face in the region. Only a few months into our first European season, our startups have gained significant traction inside Cisco – and are demonstrating potential for strategic relationships and differentiation with us.

With this success in mind, I am pleased to announce we are now accepting applications from startups located in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR) to join our second season cohort in the region. We have partnered with Pioneers once again and are looking forward to announcing the winners on stage at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna in May. Find out more and apply here.

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Putting Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence into High Gear: More Startup Innovations for the Internet of Everything

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.

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Accelerating open innovation on all fronts at Cisco

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.

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Reinventing Innovation to Capture the Internet of Everything Opportunity

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.

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Launching Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence in Europe

I recently wrote about how we are extending Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR)  and our open innovation strategy beyond Silicon Valley through local incubation partners in Chicago, San Diego and Berkeley.  Our presence in these innovation hubs will enable us to discover, influence and learn from new ideas and talent at early-stage startups with potential to disrupt our industry.

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of Cisco EIR Europe, extending our program to a non-U.S. innovation hub for the first time.  Cisco EIR will be located initially in Vienna, where we plan to launch a small cohort of early-stage European startups by January 2015 – to be supported & incubated by Cisco – drawn from across EMEAR.  As with Cisco EIR in Silicon Valley, we will look for game-changing entrepreneurs in IoE, security, Big Data/analytics, Smart Cities & other transformational opportunities that are in Cisco’s strategic line of sight.  Also as in our Silicon Valley program, the startups will be supported by Cisco engineering & product teams as well as our EMEAR partner ecosystem.  The Vienna-based program is intended to serve as the beachhead – our “Phase 1” – for a broader EU-wide footprint for Cisco EIR.

Key to our success is how we leverage the startup ecosystem that already exists in Europe.  To this end, starting in Vienna, we have partnered with Pioneers, a leading startup community organization in Europe.  More partnerships are in the works.

I know all of you will agree innovation knows no national boundaries.  Europe, with its deep entrepreneurial talent, large market and history of innovation, presents a unique opportunity for usEurope is also one of the key regions for our Smart Cities – as you saw from our recent announcement of a new Smart Cities initiative in Copenhagen, following similar projects in Barcelona, Amsterdam Chicago and Hamburg.

We are thrilled to forge relationships in the European startup community – and support entrepreneurs as partners in open innovation.

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