The Cisco Co-Innovation Summit, “Night at the DDR Museum” and Cisco Live in Berlin marked the graduation and last hurrah for the second cohort of Cisco EIR Europe startups. The six-month program included a fantastic journey through startup hubs across Europe. As the program manager of this very diverse cohort, I am both personally and professionally sentimental to see the startups go. I had a great time learning and growing alongside the startups as we explored the Cisco ecosystem together.
Our busy week in Berlin last month kicked off at the Cisco Co-Innovation Summit where the five Cisco EIR Europe startups walked the “graduation stage”—an incredible moment for the EMEAR team. We were very proud of startups Aircloak, CoroNet Security, Intelliment Security, Sensewaves and Wittos.
Besides the graduation, the event highlighted the incredible happenings in the space of co-innovation in Europe. We listened to the Cisco Innovation Framework from executives like Cisco VP, Maciej Kranz, that covered programs like CHILL and Cisco Innovation Centers like OpenBerlin. Mike Flannagan, Cisco Vice President of Data & Analytics Group and sponsor of Cisco EIR Europe and ChallengeUp!, stressed the importance of co-innovation. He plans to use programs like ChallengeUp! (that has partners like Intel and Deutsche Telekom) to help foster the IoT businesses of the future. Finally, Cisco and Mark Hutchinson, Advisory Partner of auditing giant Ernst & Young took to the stage to announce a joint white paper on corporate acceleration and innovation.
The summit demonstrated the positive impact of open innovation on Cisco and its partners. While it is difficult to measure direct revenue growth from such programs, Cisco’s Client Director for Deutsche Telekom, Martin Wiegmann, told us how ChallengeUp! had positively impacted the relationship he has with his customers. Lena Peller, from Cisco Human Resources, shared how employees she spoke with enjoyed the opportunity to mentor startups. The mentors appreciated the programs because they gave them a chance to think outside the box aside from their day-to-day job. Finally, Marcel van der Heijden, partner at Speedinvest, and Pekka Mäki, partner at 3TS, rounded the evening off by giving their perspectives on the investment ecosystem and role of corporate accelerators. As packed of a schedule as it was, with corporate and startup perspectives in the mix, it turned out to be a great afternoon that continued into an even nicer evening at Cisco Innovation Center OpenBerlin.
Our startups next participated in Cisco Live Berlin, with about 12,000 Cisco employees, partners and customers. The Cisco EIR Europe startups spent the days (which turned into evenings) at the Cisco Investments Pavilion. They networked and presented their novel approaches to machine learning, data analytics and security to Cisco and its customers. Meeting with Cisco executives, distinguished engineers and business development individuals is one of the key advantages these startups have from events like this. The event gave them an opportunity to cement their future relations with Cisco even after the conclusion of the formal Cisco EIR program.
Berlin’s unique combination of history and innovation can be found at one of Berlin’s most renowned museums, the DDR Museum. Our London-based Cisco EIR startup, Wittos, used their smart wireless technology along with Cisco’s network infrastructure to transform the museum into a showcase of their technology. The final event of the week, otherwise known as a Ben Stiller-like, “Night at the Museum”, was a tour through the museum with over 100 customers and partners present. Amy Lai, CEO of Wittos, and Gerd Pflueger, Cisco Mentor, presented their solution for the museum in an interactive showcase. The impressive capabilities of the joint solution has turned the DDR into the must see museum for Wi-Fi and infrastructure technology in Berlin.
The week in Berlin was an incredible culmination to an amazing experience with startups from across Europe in the Cisco EIR program. Personally, it marked the conclusion of a fantastic internship and the opening of new doors within Cisco as I go on to take the lead for our co-innovation program, ChallengeUp! ChallengeUp is an IoT Accelerator by Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom.
Thank you, Cisco EIR. It’s been an unbelievable experience! And to the startups, congratulations! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of you.