How startups and corporations can jointly take the Internet of Things forward

To implement innovations you need the creativity and flexibility of a startup and the knowhow and resources of a corporate group. Uniting the best of both worlds, the ‘challenge up!’ startup initiative seeks to fire up the development of the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things is a breeding ground for new ideas. That plays into the hands of startups as a matter of principle. They mostly have fresh ideas and are able to develop them fast thanks to their compact structure. At the same time, however, scarce resources and a lack of knowhow slow them down. Corporations could solve this dilemma.


As a rule, startups with good ideas are merely on the shopping list as far as large corporations are concerned. Intel, Cisco, and Deutsche Telekom (with hub:raum) have now adopted a different approach. At the Mobile World Congress in March these three launched a joint startup program, ‘Challenge Up!’, that aims to make market entry easier for young companies and to establish contacts with potential partners.


More than 300 applicants


IoT startups from the EMEA region had until the end of May to apply to join the program. During the application phase the startups continued to develop their projects with the aid of experts and mentors from Intel, Cisco, and Deutsche Telekom.


At the end of this phase a jury had to nominate the best 20 of more than 300 applicants to go forward into the next round. The Top 20 were invited to Krakow for intensive training. Along with intensive coaching, mentorship sessions, workshops and lectures were on the agenda. At the end of five days in Poland a jury named the 12 winners.


Better treatment of diabetes patients


They include, for example, the Danish startup Admetsys, which has developed Smart Pancreas, a system that measures and controls the blood glucose levels of diabetics automatically while they are in hospital. Admetsys shows in detail how it works and the benefits it offers in this video:



Admetsys - Diabetic treatment. Revolutionized. from Domaso on Vimeo.


The team at ProGlove, in contrast, has developed a smart glove that could make work processes significantly simpler in the future. It is a wearable that incorporates inter alia a computing unit, various sensors, an RFID module and a display. What it looks like and what it can do can be seen in this video:



The other startups’ ideas are also worth a look. Here is a brief overview:


ComfyLight: The Swiss startup has developed a smart light bulb with both a motion and a brightness sensor that can log into an LAN via a wireless module. If the user is not at home the system switches on and off automatically to deter burglars. If a burglar does gain access to the home, the system raises the alarm by means of light signals. The domain leads to the IoT platform of the Romanian startup of the same name. If companies connect their equipment fleets via the platform they can collect machine data centrally, evaluate it via a dashboard and even send control commands to their machines.


Hi-Park: Can’t find anywhere to park? The Israeli startup Hi-Park’s solution could be the answer. Instead of equipping individual parking spaces with sensors the company relies on existing devices: smartphones. If the smartphone’s camera keeps an eye on the roadside as the user is driving along, image recognition software analyzes whether parking spaces are free or in use. On the basis of this information the app directs motorists to the nearest free parking space.


Ifinity: The Polish startup Ifinity aims to achieve no less than change the way we interact with our environment. It does so by relying on beacons. In Warsaw these small Bluetooth transmitters already help people with impaired vision to move around town independently.


n-Join: Transforming a factory into a smart factory requires the utmost precision in process analysis. That is where the Israeli startup n-Join kicks in. Its software analyzes plant and machinery data continuously, recognizes production process anomalies and visualizes wear and tear of critical components meticulously.


OORT: The Polish startup OORT has big plans. Based on Bluetooth the company is in the process of setting up an open ecosystem for home or office use. Devices are connected via a hub and users can control connected devices and automate processes via an app or the web portal. When, for example, users leave their home, lighting and heating are switched off and the alarm system is switched on.


Senic: Would you like to control your smart home via your smartphone? The German startup Senic does not rate that at all highly. Instead, the team has developed a kind of universal remote control for all connected devices and even your laptop by means of Bluetooth. It can be operated by a control wheel, button or touchscreen interface or – contactlessly – by means of certain gestures.


SEMSEYE: When planning shift schedules for their employees, retails have hitherto had to rely on instinct and experience. Semseye, a Lithuanian startup, aims to change this state of affairs. It has developed a device that quantifies customer footfall. Users can check the data in real time on a web portal and are better able to decide when how many employees are needed in the store.


Taggalo: Until now, online traders have been a step ahead of retailers in the field of customer contact. On the Web the customer journey is easy to individualize on the basis of customer data. In retail that has been a much more elaborate process. The Italian startup Taggalo aims to change that. It has developed sensors that record indicators such as store traffic or how long customers stay in the store and visualize them in real time on a platform.


Waylay: If you have already taken the first step toward Industrie 4.0 by connecting plant and machinery, Waylay will take you on the next steps in the journey. The Belgian startup’s platform enables users to realize complex automation concepts. Sensors and actuators can be incorporated via the REST-based architecture, and so can CRM or ERP systems.


Until November, participating startups will be working intensively with Cisco, Intel and Deutsche Telekom mentors on developing their business. This will include appearances in Krakow, Berlin, Dublin and London. To gain an impression of the startups and their ideas, your next opportunity will be on September 5 during the 2015 Startup Night in Berlin and on September 6 at IFA. If you want to meet with the Challenge Up! Teams or get more information, please contact either Holger Sbrzesny (Holger.Sbrzesny[at] or Andreas Dönges (a.doenges[at]


The startups that come through the program successfully will qualify for possible co-investment by the three corporate sponsors or by leading corporate venture funds. Details will be available at the ‘challenge up!’ summit to be held at the unBoundDigital technology conference in London on November 30 and December 1, 2015.

Tags: IOT , M2M , Machine-to-Machine , Internet of Things , startup , contest , challenge

Comments (1)

  1. Dietmar

    Jun 22, 2017 - 06:22


    Especially Semseye I can really recommend for retailers. The product is not 2 years on the market and it get improved quickly. On the website there are more explainations for the product.

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