Cisco names winners of Innovate Everywhere Challenge

Virtual reality, remote access and digital media logistics all fit with Cisco’s mission

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Innovate Everywhere Challenge

Nearly half of Cisco’s 74,000-member workforce got involved in the company’s recently completed Innovate Everywhere Challenge, designed to spark startup-like activity among its ranks. More than 1,100 ideas were submitted and 3 winners were selected.

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Cisco’s Inspiration

Cisco’s Innovation Grand Challenge has sought startup ideas from outsiders (applications accepted until Aug. 31, 2016 for the current one), leaving Cisco employees wanting a piece of the action. Cisco looked to Adobe’s Kickbox program, epitomized by an actual red box filled with detailed instructions, a $1,000 pre-paid credit card, chocolate and a Starbucks gift card, to launch its own internal innovation challenge. Adobe has open-sourced its Kickbox program.

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Strategic Innovation Elements

Contestants were asked to examine these markets, technologies and business models in developing their ideas.

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Challenge winners: Enterprise Virtual and Augmented Reality (EVAR)

EVAR has designs on integrating third-party virtual and augmented reality technology with Cisco’s collaboration offerings such as Spark and Telepresence. Manufacturing, healthcare and other industries already heavily involved with 3D information might be natural early candidates. Shown here is Phil Trease, a systems analyst and user experience expert on the EVAR team. Read our interview with Trease here ("Virtual reality no longer just a hobby for these Cisco employees"). Fellow team members: Rich Logan, IT engineer; Dan Bourque, technical leader, engineering; Edwin Zhang, user experience manager; Bradley Jones, software engineer

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Challenge winners: LifeChanger

Focused on helping employers bring more disabled workers into the fold by enabling them to work remotely via Cisco collaboration technologies. Team members: Maria Medrano, Project Manager; Rachael Jacobson, Manager, Career Services; Gene Papula, Manager, Systems Engineering and Sales; Silvia Fedor, Executive Assistant.

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Challenge winners: Rainmaker

A logistics platform for coordinating complex digital media campaigns, assuring that high priority assets don’t get bogged down on busy network pipes. Team members: Matt Caulfield, Technical Leader Cloud & Virtulalization; Steve Louie, Software engineer and World Wide Video Architect; Tom Ohanian, Senior Business Development Manager, Media Segment Strategy; Adam Schaub, Software Engineer, World Wide Video Architecture; Andy Valentine (team mentor), Principal Engineer

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The Ringleader

Cisco Director of Innovation Strategy and Programs Alex Goryachev: “We had a lot of employees say this was their best experience at Cisco because they really felt that they owned their destiny irrespective of what grade they are. They can meet cool people, they can network, they can mentor and they can really get in front of anyone in the company and sell their ideas.”

Cisco’s Innovate Everywhere Challenge wrap-up video

From Cisco: "CEO Chuck Robbins asked Cisco employees to team up, disrupt, innovate—and win. And what did our amazing employees do? Just that! We’re so proud of their accomplishments in the first-ever Innovate Everywhere Challenge, and this video celebrates their incredible achievement."

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.