Thursday, February 07, 2008

Entrepreneur Alert: Cisco I-Prize

Calling all space entrepreneurs ... Cisco recently started a contest called the Cisco I-Prize. Here's the prize that could be on the line:

The winning team may have the opportunity to be hired by Cisco to found a new business unit and share a $250,000 signing bonus. Cisco may invest approximately $10 million over three years to staff, develop, and go to market with a new business based on your idea.

However, it's not easy to win. Phase I "Brainstorming" is almost over already (but it only started a couple months ago, so if you already have well-formulated ideas you've been pitching, you may be ok). You've got to convince them that you have a business plan that's worth their while investing in. Space businesses may be a tough sell ... but space entrepreneurs may have an advantage this time because they've done so much in the "prize" environment. If you have a "dual use" space concept that can work in space but can also work in terrestrial applications, all the better. Here's what they're looking for:

Ideas should have the potential to bring in at least $1 billion revenue to Cisco over a five- to seven-year period, and submissions must use the IP network as a platform.

Ground station infrastructure? In-space communications using IP and linking to ground networks? Some computer application using space data (imagery, GPS, etc.) like Google Earth? I sure don't know, but I think some space businesses could fit the model.

Check out the Cisco I-Prize blog. So far they've seen a lot of ideas in energy, healthcare, automotive (sounds like those non-space X PRIZEs!) and wireless. However, they're not unfamiliar with commercial space.

The California Space Authority has an article about Cisco and space:

- Cisco Increasingly Looks to Military Space Projects: Here's an excerpt:

Sanford said that by putting a so-called Internet protocol router in space, essentially a modified version of commercial technology used on the ground, the project could serve as a sort of test bed for future, multibillion dollar Air Force investments in a fleet of advanced military-communications satellites. He said it's also a way to get the military "user community directly involved" in specific technical issues and planning for future satellite projects.

The Space Show has an interview with Cisco's Richard Sanford.

Here's a CSA pdf on a Cisco space IP press release.