The Internet of Things (IoT) – in which everything, from refrigerators to cars to closet doors will be part of a vast network – is a great business opportunity for big tech companies like Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom. To help ferret out the top IoT ideas, the three companies are joining forces to establish Challenge Up!, an Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator for start-ups from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region with great IoT-oriented technology.
These include start-ups like Israel’s Fitterli, which provides technology to web clothing retailers that allows users to create an online avatar that can try on clothing. Sites using the system offer shoppers an opportunity to upload a scan of themselves, which, using advanced algorithms, is turned into a virtual full-body avatar. That avatar can then try on outfits to see how good they look. Key to the system is the accuracy of the avatar – and according to Fitterli, the avatar is extremely accurate, taking into account all of a person’s features, down to “unsightly bulges.”
Fitterli recently won the Intel Business Challenge Europe 2014, and the company’s technology “fits right in with Intel’s expansion into the Internet of Things,” said Intel Israel spokesperson Guy Grimland. “The 3D technology offered by Fitterli is the kind of innovation Intel has come to expect from Israel, which has developed technology that has enabled the company to strike out on new and exciting paths that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.”
Intel wants more ideas like that, and it hopes to find them in Israel and in other countries in the region in its new IoT partnership, said Christian Morales, Corporate Vice President and General Manager Europe, Middle East and Africa at Intel. “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 start-ups access to the complimentary resources of our three global companies we can help them accelerate their ideas into commercial success.”
Challenge Up! is designed for early-stage start-ups 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, etc.), information security, big data, analytics, connectivity and cloud computing.
Key elements of the program are Acceleration Week, to be held June 22-26, 2015, which will be sponsored by Intel Business Challenge Europe, Cisco EIR and Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum accelerator, and a tailor-made, 4-month incubation program (July through October) taking place in Krakow, Berlin and Vienna, supported by Cisco, Deutsche Telekom and Intel. Start-ups selected for the program participate for free with no equity required, and keep their own intellectual property.
All three companies have extensive operations in Israel, and all are very interested in IoT tech. On a recent visit to Israel, Cisco CEO John Chambers described his vision of an IoT future – with Israel as “ground zero” for IoT tech development. “This is where the real revolution is taking place, and we are supplying the architecture for it,” Chambers said.
Over the next ten years, Cisco customers who are implementing wireless connections in traditionally offline products will truly cash in – earning some $14.4 trillion in profits. “And the whole market is four to six times bigger,” Chambers said, “and keep in mind that that’s just the cream – the profit – and not the actual spending or economic activity. If I were an Israeli start-up, this is where I would want to be.”
To help them get there, said Mike Flannagan, Vice President of Data & Analytics at Cisco, the Challenge Up! program will supply start-ups with the resources and connections they need. “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,” he said.
“With Challenge Up! we are giving a great signal to the start-up world, bringing together the resources and know-how of three corporations,” said Elias Drakopoulos, Senior Vice President responsible for Europe B2B at Deutsche Telekom. “We will use our combined experience for the benefit of the Challenge Up! program and the support of the start-up community.”