Cisco announces IoT and smart city lab for Manchester

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Cisco is adding another city to its global network of smart city partners in Manchester, England. The multinational opened its Mi-IDEA innovation center for IoT this week.

The center will work with early stage startups in Northern England, offer a post-accelerator program and also focus on digital healthcare. The center will have 70,000 sq. ft. of office space, which will be located in the new Manchester Science Partnerships building immediately off campus from the University of Manchester. It will be the second main location for Cisco CREATE.

Cisco announced in 2015 that it would invest $1 billion in the UK’s tech sector by 2020. The program extends the company’s network of startup programs, including NVI (National Virtual Incubator), Cisco CREATE and IDEALondon. Companies working with the latter program, launched in conjunction with Prime Minister David Cameron, have collectively raised £20 million since 2013.

“Mi-IDEA will be uniquely positioned to tap into local, national and international innovation ecosystems,” said Cisco UK and Ireland CEO Phil Smith. “It will benefit from MSP’s existing partnerships across the region and be a key part of the NVI.”

Cisco is opening the center in conjunction with Manchester Science Partnerships. While Cisco’s press release played up a commitment to digitizing the UK, it should be known that Manchester itself won the special designation to be the UK’s “Internet of Things (IoT) City Demonstrator” in a national competition last December. The city had the backing of Cisco UK.

“In high growth sectors, it’s vital to provide targeted and specialist support programs with access to global supply chains in order to unlock the potential economic impact for the UK,” said Anne Dornan, Head of Innovation at Manchester Science Partnerships.

Corporate support for smart municipalities

The press release largely ignores what is a major initiative by Cisco to work directly with big towns worldwide to take the lead in the growing smart city industry. Cisco reached a similar agreement with Berlin in March. They also have a running agreement with Adelaide, Australia to use the town as a test center for their smart city packages, and added Kansas City, Missouri in the U.S. and Jaipur in India to its list of partners in the middle of May.

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