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The Internet of Things is continuing to ramp up. We heard plenty of chatter, both positive and negative, last week at Mobile World Congress, whether it was forecasts over how big the sector will be or stark warnings on security. Either way there are plenty of startups all around Europe tackling the IoT head on and corporates are keen to get involved.

Enter ChallengeUp!, an accelerator programme led by Cisco, Intel, and Deutsche Telekom run in association with hub:raum in Berlin and Krakow. The programme invites startups from the EMEA region to apply and join the accelerator where they’ll work with the three large corporations for guidance and mentorship as well as access to client databases and companies’ technology and infrastructure to help build their products.

ChallengeUp! can help a startup get to market three times faster than usual. Cisco, Intel, and Deutsche Telekom are major players in the fields of IoT, big data, cloud computing, and connected devices. This provides budding startups with a unique opportunity to benefit from this expertise as each corporation’s skills and knowledge are distinct yet complementary.

This will be achieved through dedicated tech and sales mentors from within the three companies. These ‘corporate mentors’ work with the startups through the whole program to ensure that the project in the end is ready to reach potential customers.


All three have a wealth of experience in running startup programs and accelerating young companies to commercialisation, which is an opportunity that startups may not find in other accelerator programmes.

The companies will take no equity in the startups that participate (and startups will maintain their IP) but at the end of the programme, there are opportunities to receive a potential co-investment from Cisco, Intel, and Deutsche Telekom.

The Internet of Things by its nature is very broad and so the remit for the accelerator is rather open too. Lithuania’s SEMSeye, which develops a “people traffic management” solution for retailers, took part in ChallengeUp! last year. “SEMSeye ChallengeUp! was an absolutely astonishing experience – in four months’ time our product became part of the Intel product portfolio,” said a spokesperson for the startup. “Also, we partnered with Deutsche Telekom to equip our smart sensors to provide “Counting as Service” in their regional outlets.”

Startup n-Join from Israel also took part in the programme and worked with Cisco and Deutsche Telekom to help in developing its machine learning and big data algorithms for the industrial sector. The startup has since raised funding from TerraLab Ventures.


“n-Join is proud that we have successfully integrated our system with hardware by Cisco and cloud services by Deutsche Telekom – and used this powerful joint solution to great effect with one of our top clients,” they said.

The application period for ChallengeUp! ends on March 22, find more about the program here and check out the video below.