(Editor’s note: This is a sponsored article, which means it’s independently written by our editorial team but financially supported by another organisation, in this case, Challenge UP! which is an interesting IoT accelerator recently kickstarted by Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom (hub:raum).

If you would like to learn more about sponsored posts on Tech.eu, read this and contact us if you’re interested in partnering with us.)

You’ve seen corporate-run accelerators in different shapes and sizes, but have you ever seen three technology industry giants collaborate on a join startup accelerator before? For the EMEA region, no less?

Enter Challenge UP!, a joint initiative from Intel, Cisco and telco Deutsche Telekom.

It is essentially an international hybrid accelerator and incubation program for startups in the EMEA region, with a focus on Internet of Things (IoT) startups, although the term is defined rather broadly and includes companies in areas such as smart homes and cities, energy, transportation, big data, wearables, analytics and “Industry 4.0”.

Publicly unveiled during the recent Mobile World Congress, the program unites the resources of the corporate startup programs of each company: Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR), Intel Business Challenge Europe and hub:raum by Deutsche Telekom.

Since then, another major corporation has decided to chip in: carmaker BMW’s Startup Garage has signed up as program partner for the accelerator’s connected car track.

Also read: 10 European tech startups driving change in the automotive industry


Even if that already piques your interest, you likely have some questions left. Let me tackle the most important one first: Yes, Challenge UP! is free for entrepreneurs, and No, none of the companies that are backing it are asking for any equity in your startup.

In fact, you may find certain travel and accommodation costs covered by the organisation when incurred during the program.

No strings attached, in other words, and this is part of the reason why more than 900 entrepreneurs have already applied to be accepted into the program. But Challenge UP! is still accepting applications, up until May 31st, so go check it out if you’re interested!

challenge up homepage

Another question you may haven especially given that the accelerator was set up between these three industry juggernauts (and now with BMW as an extra partner): what about your intellectual property? Challenge UP! ensures that all startups’ IP remains theirs (provided that they have full ownership of all relevant trademarks, patents, copyrights when they join the program).

The biggest value for participating startups is the support by Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom when it comes to defining a clear go-to-market strategy and a path to sustained commercialisation of the projects – and in my experience this is often where European startups lack the knowledge and experience. To learn how each will help specifically, check out the Challenge UP! website.

challenge up Snake

In summary: Challenge UP! provides access to expert networks all around the world, and startups that prove their worth during the program are eligible for potential co-investment from all three main backers of the accelerators, in addition to corporate venture funds in their network.

I know a few accelerators in Europe that will take a significant cut of your startup without providing even a fraction of all this in return, so consider ‘challenging UP’.

challenge up