Cisco, Intel launch IoT accelerator for African startups


Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom used the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona, Spain to launch Challenge Up!, a joint Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator for startups from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The programme is aimed at helping innovative IoT startups make it to market faster through joint projects, mentoring, high-value networking and corporate assets.

Startups selected for the programme may also receive strategic investment and support with commercialising their products for global markets.

Challenge Up! looks to unite resources and experience from the startup initiatives of the companies involved – Cisco’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, the Intel Business Challenge Europe, and hub:raum, powered by Deutsche Telekom.

“With Challenge Up! we are giving a great signal to the startup world, bringing together the resources and know-how of three corporations. We will use our combined experience for the benefit of the Challenge Up! programme and the support of the startup community,” said Elias Drakopoulos, senior vice president responsible for Europe B2B at Deutsche Telekom.

Challenge Up! is designed for early-stage startups creating solutions for the Internet of Things (IoE) and the Internet of Everything (IoE) and related areas, including connected and smart solutions, information security, big data, analytics, connectivity and cloud computing.

Acceleration Week will be held on June 22-26, while a four-month incubation programme will take place from July Krakow, Poland, Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, with startups participating for free with no equity required and keeping their own intellectual property.

“We are looking forward to the creative ideas for new products and services from across the region to improve how we live and work together. By giving startups access to the complimentary resources of our three global companies we can help them accelerate their ideas into commercial success,” said Christian Morales, corporate vice president and general manager for EMEA at Intel.

“With an expected 50 billion things connected to the internet by 2020, the Internet of Everything opens up great opportunities. To help better address these opportunities, Challenge Up! brings together the best of the technology world in an ecosystem of open innovation,” said Mike Flannagan, vice president of data and analytics at Cisco.

Interested startups can apply online by May 25.


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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