Cisco launches prize for promising entrepreneurs

Cisco announces its new $10 million I-Prize, a competition searching for fresh business proposals.

In an effort to recruit new business ideas, Cisco has announced today its I-Prize, giving entrepreneurs from around the globe the chance to join Cisco as founders of a new emerging technology business unit and share a $250,000 (120,727) signing bonus.

Depending on the appeal of the proposal, Cisco may invest up to $10 million (4.8 million) over three years to fund the fledgling unit.

Entries to the contest will be judged on technological innovation as well as business opportunity, and will be required to use the IP network as a platform. Submissions should also have the potential for $1 billion (482 million) in revenue over a five-seven year period.

"There are large parts of the world where inventors and entrepreneurs don't have ready access to venture capital or other means of funding, but they have excellent ideas. We want to give those innovators an outlet and a means to develop their dream," said Marthin DeBeer, senior vice president, Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group. "The emergence of collaboration technologies and the growth of the network are driving a rapid evolution in the way we work. Cisco believes we can open up new idea pipelines by closing those geographical gaps and at the same time infuse new ideas into Cisco's culture of innovation."

The contest is split into three phases, from October 31 to April 30. Phase I, Brainstorm, invites potential winners to register and submit their ideas. Other registered applicants can comment and vote on submissions.

Phase II begins in February when 100 semi-finalist teams work alongside Cisco experts to build their business plans and presentations. The teams will have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art collaboration tools while they're refining their ideas

Phase III places the up to 10 finalists in front of a judging panel comprised of Cisco senior executives to present the business models they've been working on over the past six months.

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