Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, and Intel are teaming up to help European IoT Startups go Global

Paul Chen

Krakow – Business Insider said in an article „The Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to grow significantly, as consumers, businesses, and governments recognize the benefit of connecting inert devices to the internet.”
They also reported that this market will overtake the the PC, smartphone, and tablet market combined.  Additionally, the IoT market will add $1.7 Trillion in value added to the global economy by 2020.  One of the main advantages of the sector is that it will make your home more efficient, as a result, lowering your costs.
Later this spring, Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, and Intel are teaming up to run an ultra-powered accelerator called ChallengeUp.  I sat down with Luka Sucic, Business Development Manager of Hubraum to find out more:
What is the state of the Internet of Things sector in Poland?
There are quite a few ventures in the IoT market in Poland at the moment.   In Krakow, we have three companies who are progressing quite well.  When you hear IoT and Poland, the first thing you think about are iBeacons. We have Estimote and Kontakt.io doing that.  In Warsaw, they have Ifinity beacons who just won a prize from the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge.  Woolet is making sure that you never lose your wallet.  

Where do you think the IoT market is heading in terms of:
Retail: Obviously, most of the discussion is around iBeacons and how it will allow merchants to interact with their customers by pushing messages to their smart devices at the same time gain valuable insight on how their customers are interacting with the things in their stores.  It could also make payment easier.
Home: When people think of IoT, they think of smart homes. In Hubraum we have a couple companies doing that.  Vorm lab has developed Clime sensors that will let you know about the atmospheric conditions of the rooms in your house by helping you measure the temperature and humidity of your home.  Ecois.me is helping you save energy costs using a device connected to your electricity meter. I can also mention Seed Labs is trying to help you automate your home with small BLE devices.
Public Health: Here in Krakow, air pollution is a big health issue.  I can see a great opportunity for a startup to develop something to help tackle that issue.  It would be a tremendous market potential for the local government and NGOs.  It could even be a good testing ground for implementation in China where their situation is a bit more severe.
Personal Health: Of course in the wearables market, you have the release of the Apple Watch which could help you get quite a bit of bio data, from temperature to heart rate.  There are also some small handheld sensors that allow you measure your vital signs and show it on your smart device.  Here in Hubraum, we have Tail, which is a device that helps you monitor your dog’s vital signs.

What are some problems that the IoT market trying to solve?

One of the things that IoT can do is to help us automate a lot of the things we do each day.  Using big data and semi-artificial intelligence, it can perform tasks even before we think of it.  The major benefit would be to give us more time to do meaningful human activities like being creative and doing business.  There are so many daily situations that could be potentially solved by IoT.  In the north of Poland, Austria, and Romania, they are doing things dealing with haptic technology to improve communication between people. Another major problem is security.  With so many things that will be on the internet, you don’t want an angry neighbor with technical skills to hack into your smart home and create hell.  

What is the value proposition of IoT to an average person?

As I mentioned before, the time you will gain from the automation of processes and tasks. One of the stories that I remember is that Steve Jobs challenged his engineers to shorten the boot time of their computers because so many work hours are wasted each year for waiting for PCs to start.

You have devices like Google Nest, which can help you move from one environment to another with relative comfort.  A team in Bulgaria, used some infrared sensors to creat their own Google Nest.

As a parent, you can have your baby’s vitals monitored constantly so you can know if anything is not going right.  In Croatia, there is Bellabeat  that is doing prenatal monitoring.  As an elite athlete, you can have sensors monitoring your breathing, levels of lactic acid, and even improve your form.  As a grandson, I would feel better when I can monitor certain things about my 90 year old grandmother who might be old but still wants some independence.  The automation of tasks will give her time to spend with her grandkids.  In Czech Republic and Slovakia, there are startups working on that. So the biggest value proposition to an average person is a peace of mind.  

Cisco, Deutsche Telekom, and Intel have teamed up to deal with that challenge?
One of the core operations of a telekom is machine to machine communications, be it via wifi, bluetooth, or cellular signals. So it is natural for Deutsche Telekom to get into this market.  We wanted to find ways to accelerate the progress of the market.  We wanted to bring the expert knowledge gained from years of experience with M2M as well as access to over 151 million customers, to startups.  We have also teamed up with two ICT giants.  Cisco is known for their networking knowledge and how to do business with it, and Intel is known for their powerful processors and multi-tasking computer boards.

As a result, you have three powerhouses helping startups with problem solving, product and customer development, marketing, and branding with their years of experience and position on the IT market.

The program is called Challenge Up!   

Challenge Up! is designed for early-stage startups creating solutions for the Internet of Things/Everything (IoT/IoE) and related areas, including connected and smart solutions (smart home, smart city, smart energy, connected cars, wearables, Industry 4.0), information security, big data, analytics, connectivity and cloud computing.
Key elements of the program are Acceleration Week , which will be sponsored by Cisco EIR, Intel® Business Challenge Europe and hub:raum, and
Ten years ago, nobody could have imagined that today we would have wearables and smart watches and smartphones except a few people.  So in Challenge Up, we would like to promote out of the box thinking in order to create really innovative products.

What are you looking for in a project?

We want to identify 12 startups and help them bring their ideas to the global market.  Geography does not matter.  They can come from Macedonia, Albania, or the Czech Republic.  Basically, any place in Europe.  At the beginning, we will work with 24 startups.  After, Acceleration Week (to be held July 6-10, 2015 in HubRaum,  Krakow), they will be short listed to 12 teams.  The acceleration week can be thought of as our WARP program on steroids. The specifics is still being determined at the moment, but there will be a lot of attention put on mentoring by top corporate and external partners.  Then, they will participate in a tailor-made, 4-month incubation program (July to October) taking place in Krakow, Berlin and Vienna supported by Cisco, Deutsche Telekom and Intel. During the incubation period, focus will be on on setting targets and deeper analyses of the startup. The final will be a Demo Day in Berlin.  Startups selected for the program participate for free with no equity required and keep their own intellectual property.

We believe that with teams from different regions with their different areas of expertise in addition to all the resources of Intel, Cisco, and Deutsche Telekom, we can create a synergetic effect that will become a catalyst for great things.

We are looking for people who are passionate towards a cause and want to make a difference.  We are looking for people with good business, scientific, and technical talent.  We are looking for people who are creative and hungry.  We are looking for people who can work well with their team members.  We are looking for people who are able to implement ideas.   If you can identify a problem that can be solved with a IoT solution, we want you!

Which tools are at the team’s disposal?

We have a team of top professionals with many years of practical experience from different departments of Deutsche Telekom, Intel, and Cisco, who are available for mentoring sessions.  Such department includes: PR, Marketing, Technical, Legal, and ect.  The teams will have access to different types of new technology to help them prove their hypothesis.  In fact, Intel is making their previously unreleased mini-boards, Edison and Galileo, available to be used and worked on during the program.

What will be available for the teams that make it to the end?

Usually, after programs like this, you get investments from our VC funds, partnership deals, access to more technology like bandwidth, and recognition.  However, since we have three major companies with global recognition, what you get, above all else, is trust of a global customer base.  You get a fast track to awesome branding.  Usually, it might take a team years to gain that type of confidence, with this program, you get it after weeks, due to the size of our mega-combination of companies.  Of course, the deployment of the products will be segmented strategically.  Like what Google is doing with Fiber, we will test it in a small market segment then expand from there based on feedback and data.

What does a program do for Polish Tech?

This is a chance for people from different countries to come together and network, collaborate, and feed off each other.  Each country has something that they are really good at: Croatia - eHealth, Czech and Slovaks - eCommerce and analytics, Poles - iBeacons, Romania - cybersecurity.  With the help of Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, and Intel, we hope they go home with a little of something from other countries that have rubbed off during the program.  We feel that there are no losers here.  Teams accepted will go home with practical knowledge gained from top professionals in their field, experience with cutting edge technology, and connections from many networking sessions.  

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This is a repost of an article that originally appeared in Polish on web.gov.pl.  It has been reposted in English with permission. 

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