Chicago Innovation Exchange joins Cisco in innovation program for entrepreneurs

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Partnership will launch startups working on big data, cloud computing

The Chicago Innovation Exchange and Cisco Systems, Inc. have joined together to launch CiscoEIR@CIE, a joint innovation program to support entrepreneurs working on game-changing ideas in the Internet of Everything (IoE), big data, cloud computing and related areas.

The Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence incubation program at the Chicago Innovation Exchange—CiscoEIR@CIE—will kick off with the Chicago Innovation Exchange + Cisco Innovation Challenge, themed around big data and the Internet of Everything, an emerging approach to technology development that adds connectivity and computing power to everyday products to create new user experiences and business models. Winners of the challenge will receive consideration for fast-track admission to a joint startup incubation program launching this summer.

The challenge and incubation program are open to innovators and entrepreneurs throughout Chicago, including students and researchers from the University of Chicago and affiliate partners such as Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab and other Illinois research institutions.

The CiscoEIR@CIE program is the first corporate partnership for the Chicago Innovation Exchange, a new hub for multidisciplinary collaborations and support for startup activity by UChicago faculty and students as well as area entrepreneurs. It will include financial support in the form of payments and benefits, use of co-working space, access to mentors and opportunities to collaborate closely with Cisco business and engineering teams.

“This joint program brings Cisco’s technology and business expertise to the innovators and assets emerging from the University of Chicago and is exemplary of the kind of collaboration the Chicago Innovation Exchange hopes to foster to support entrepreneurs,” said John Flavin, executive director of the Chicago Innovation Exchange. “The CiscoEIR@CIE program will help take new ideas to market to solve important business challenges and, in the process, have a positive impact on the Chicago startup ecosystem and the broader Illinois economy.”

The Chicago Innovation Exchange opened its first office space, at the Harper Court office tower in Hyde Park, in February 2014. The main Chicago Innovation Exchange facility, in which businesses will be incubated, is expected to open by the end of the year, extending the city’s fast-growing innovation network to the South Side.

“Innovation is critical to Chicago’s future economic strength and is a driving force behind the city’s job creation and neighborhood economic development activities,” said Rahm Emanuel, mayor of the city of Chicago. “The Chicago Innovation Exchange’s collaboration with Cisco will bolster our work to advance innovation, create jobs, retain top talent and impact the regional economy.”

“The University of Chicago and Chicago Innovation Exchange have a rich history of technology innovation and venture creation, exemplified by the leading big data analytics and connected device research taking place at the Computation Institute,” said Tom Yoritaka, managing director of Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence. “The Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence program helps exceptional entrepreneurs bring their product vision to market while exposing Cisco to new strategic partners and emerging companies and technologies in key areas.

“Launching CiscoEIR@CIE enables Cisco to tap into the cutting-edge ideas and product opportunities being developed by the University of Chicago and its affiliates while supporting the entrepreneurial community throughout the greater Chicago area.”

The application period for the Chicago Innovation Exchange + Cisco Innovation Challenge began April 3 and will continue through June 15, 2014. Applications will be evaluated based on the merits of the technology and feasibility summary. Selected finalists will present their ideas to a panel of judges from the Chicago Innovation Exchange and Cisco. Winners of the challenge will receive consideration for fast-track admission into a joint startup incubation program of Chicago Innovation Exchange and Cisco, feedback on their business and technology and public recognition of their effort.

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