Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge

Up to $250,000 is available for high-potential technology startups seeking investment and support to accelerate their development.

cisco innovation challenge



The Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge is a competition that awards cash prizes and offers facilities, mentoring, and potential investment opportunities. The competition seeks disruptive ventures that harness the power of the intelligent network. Submissions are encouraged from startups, entrepreneurs, developers and anyone else who has an early-stage business, prototype or solution in customer trials.

This global competition recognizes technologies, products or business models that best leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) across a variety of categories.



Digital transformation is here. With less than 1 percent of things in the physical world connected to the Internet, there is an incredible opportunity to connect the unconnected, creating vast opportunities for the Internet of Things (IoT) to transform businesses and industries by re-inventing business processes, operational efficiencies and customer service innovations.

Cisco should be at the forefront of innovation and we can best do that by discovering the next generation of startups that will partner with us. The Innovation Grand Challenge is a way to support the development of breakthrough technologies, products or business models.



The Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge aims to inspire, engage, and support the next generation of startups, entrepreneurs and developers that are capturing IoT/IoE opportunities.


Eligible Participants

The Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge attracts high-potential technology startups and developers who are seeking investment and support to accelerate their idea or solution into the market. Cisco don’t limit the contest, so don’t limit your ideas. However, give some thought to what you think will have the best chance to win, so pay attention to how the ideas are judged. This global competition is open to:

1.  Individuals:   Individual Participants must enter the Contest in their individual capacities.

2.  Teams:   As an alternative to participating as a single individual, Individual Participants may elect to form a team (“Team”) of multiple people to submit a single Entry. Each member of the Team that contributes in any way to an Entry (each a “Team Member”) must separately accept the Terms & Conditions

3.  Business Entities:   Business Entity Participants must enter the Contest on behalf of their legal business organizations. An Entry submitted by a Business Entity Participant must designate one individual member as the “Business Entity Contact Person” for contact and Contest administrative purposes. The Business Entity Contact Person will be responsible for submitting the Entry on behalf of the Business Entity Participant.


Judging Criteria

The ventures will be judged based on a combination of the following factors (in no weighted order):

  • Customer value – The submitting team has identified an area of significance for customers
  • Market opportunity and potential for growth – The venture represents a large revenue opportunity if successfully brought to market.
  • Disruptive and unique from the competition – The venture has the potential to disrupt the marketplace or digitally transform a business or government.
  • Fit with Cisco and/or partners business strategy – The solution is a natural fit with Cisco’s business strategy.
  • Likelihood of long-term success – The venture represents a space where partnering with Cisco represents a long term revenue stream.


Prize (S):

Once the judges make a final decision on the winners, cash prizes will be awarded accordingly:

  • One first prize of $150,000 USD
  • One second prize of $75,000 USD
  • One third prize of $25,000 USD

However, the cash prizes aren’t all that winners receive. Along with the cash prizes, winners also get the opportunity for mentoring with industry experts, the use of workspace at Cisco Innovation Centers, and a trip to the Web Summit in Lisbon to participate in the live finals!



Applications close 31 August 2016.


More Information


Past Winners


German startup Relayr was one of the winners of the 2014 Cisco Internet of Things Innovation Grand Challenge. The full integration of relayr OpenSensor Cloud with the Cisco Energy Management platform followed only a few weeks after. The Cisco partnership brings long term data storage and aggregation, visualization and big data analytics on a global scale to the relayr platform. In addition, Cisco IoE Innovation Centers across the world are utilizing the relayr Wunderbar sensors in their different prototyping projects, and relayr is regularly showcased in various Cisco Hack-a-thon Events and Cisco Live Conferences. Based on the relayr “IoT innovation acceleration” process, the teams jointly address projects in different industries across the globe. At the Cisco openBerlin IoE Innovation Center, Relayr is used for rapid IoT prototyping, from Proof-of-Concept to market ready solutions.

After winning the IoT Innovation Grand Challenge, Jackson Bond, Co-Founder of Relayr said: “In October we had a product that had just starting shipping and since the award, we are growing fast: we already have 2000 developers in our platform, we have over performed revenue targets for Q1 by 100%, we are working with global customers and we are staffing (from 10 people in October to 30 now). Customers are reaching out to us to help them accelerating their entry in IoT.


Aircloak is one of the proud winners of the 2014 Cisco Security Grand Challenge. Aircloak’s first-of-breed anonymizing analytics solution enables companies to share and monetize their user data without risk of violating individual privacy. Since winning the Challenge in 2014, Aircloak has been partnering with the Cisco’s openBerlin IoE Innovation Center to integrate its solution with Cisco products such as the Cisco Mobility Services Engine and the Cisco Unified Computing System.

“Working closely with Cisco has been an invaluable experience”, said CEO Felix Bauer. “They have introduced us to numerous business divisions but also to Cisco partners and customers. This really helped us refine our story and business model. Being able to tell investors we are working with Cisco doesn’t hurt either!” Aircloak has recently reached a key milestone. It is being certified for all anonymization use cases by TÜViT, the data protection division of TÜV, the largest and best-known certification and testing organization in Germany. Aircloak is currently running trials with use cases as diverse as health care, user geo-location, smart buildings, and network monitoring. Last but not least, Aircloak was just selected for the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence Program and will thus be continuing its journey with Cisco!

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