2016 Challenge Up! taking applications now from IoT startups

Okay, we usually go out and scour the interwebs for Europe’s coolest startup events, incubators and accelerators, then create a list/calendar for your perusal.

But this is cool enough, with three tech giants involved, to warrant its own post. How cool? Well, how many times a year do Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom come to your city with an accelerator event? The answer is, “Once. Maybe …” Challenge Up! is the annual talent search by Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom looking for startups focused on the Internet of Things/Internet of Everything.

We know … IOT is the most overused term since “inflection point.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 9.01.34 AM

In this case, Challenge Up! organizers spell out clearly who and what they’re looking for:

• Smart city/digital infrastructure

• Industry 4.0

• Big Data

• Analytics

• Cloud computing

• Information security (which we take to mean encryption)

• Technology and Solutions for Connectivity

Here’s the deal: ChallengeUp! is accepting early-stage entrepreneurs and start-ups, and, unlike so many company-sponsored accelerators, they don’t take equity participation if your team is selected. And to be considered, you need to apply here ASAP.

The program aims at helping innovative IoT startups go-to-market faster through joint projects, mentoring, high-value networking and corporate assets. Selected companies may also receive strategic investment and support commercializing their product or service for global markets.

Organizers will select up to 12 IoT start-ups from Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia for the acceleration program and support them in developing products and services, according to the Challenge Up! media kit. Selected start-ups will receive support in the form of mentoring, access to business/technological units of the three companies, potential investments, potential go-to-market and customer access through joint projects.

There are lots of rules and conditions, but this is the crux of what makes Challenge Up! sound pretty good compared to other programs:

Challenge Up! has no strings. The program is free to start-ups, no equity is required for participation, and startups keep their Intellectual Property. Challenge Up! will even cover some travel and accommodation costs incurred through the program.

As of today, cities and dates for the interview events across Europe, Russia, Asia and the Middle East haven’t been revealed. Last year, Challenge Up! events included Krakow, Berlin and Dublin. The 2016 teams are scheduled to be made public April 18. The final event is in London, where the final teams will participate in a six-month accelerator program.

Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telekom developed the Challenge Up! concept to bring promising Internet of Things services and solutions to market at a faster pace, according to the event website. Last year, Challenge Up! received applications from more than 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. More than 1,500 entrepreneurs registered on the platform, but only 12 startups were selected for the incubator. The 12 IoT teams presented the outcomes of the 6-month Incubation at UnBound Digital in London.

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