Cisco has announced the launch of its British Innovation Gateway (BIG) Awards – an new initiative to discover and reward innovative technology startups and SMEs in the UK.
The BIG Awards will take the form of an annual open innovation competition. Applicants can enter their technology concept or prototype idea into one of five categories – Big Data (including data centre/virtualisation), collaboration (including video and social media), Future Cities, Internet of Things and mobility.
Cisco said that, for each category, the entry should showcase how the concept can benefit the public and private sector, using the network as a platform to deliver economic, social and environmental sustainability.
The competition will run from 1 February 2012 until September 2012, and involves a four stage judging process. The six finalists will present their business plans to a judging panel at a special event on 12 September 2012, where the winner will be chosen.
The overall winner will receive a total prize package of approximately $200,000 (£124,000), made up of £63,000 cash, 12 months of mentoring from Cisco, and a 12-month support package covering PR, marketing and legal services.
Runners-up and semi-finalists will also receive cash and technology prizes to support and accelerate the development of their brands and businesses.
“There are many high potential technology based start-ups and SMEs within the UK and the BIG Awards provide a great opportunity to showcase, celebrate and reward them,” said Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK and Ireland. “By nurturing the growing businesses of tomorrow, we are helping to build a brilliant future for technology innovation in the UK.”
The competition is open to individuals, groups and legal entities in the UK, and will take place annually for the next five years. The Awards are held in partnership with JP Morgan, Bird & Bird, DNX and Octopus Communications, and are part of Cisco's I-Prize innovation contest.
The BIG Awards is the latest development in Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway initiative, announced last year, designed to encourage the advancement of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills, and give SMEs the opportunity to grow their businesses by connecting them with investors and other entrepreneurs. The initiative is part of Cisco's Olympic legacy plans.
The company plans to set up innovation centres around the country, equipped with Cisco’s own networking and collaboration technology. These centres will form a public technology network known as the National Virtual Incubator (NVI), supported by the UK's education and research network Janet.
The Awards were announced last night during an event at the Ravensbourne incubator in Greenwich – a founding member of Cisco’s NVI – attended by a selection of UK startup companies, as well as Cisco’s chief technology officer, Padmasree Warrior. The event included “Pecha Kucha” sessions, where startup companies such as Portal Entertainment, NoteVid and Simbell were given six minutes to pitch their ideas.
“For the past ten years we have been hiring problem solvers; over the next ten years we will be looking to hire people who are capable of inventing their own jobs,” said Warrior.
Registration for this year's Awards is now open. Entries will close on the 31 March 2012. Find out more here.
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