mi-idea FEATURE
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New innovation center expansion aims to help startups scale.

Energy filled Cisco's newest innovation center space in Manchester last week, as government leaders, dignitaries, academia and startup leaders celebrated the opening of Mi-IDEA, which launches a new era of innovation in Northern England.

Mi-IDEA is what's known as a post accelerator. It's a place where startups will come in and be able to co-innovate with Cisco, and get access to new business opportunities, product development, talent, and finance, all in an effort help them scale a sustainable, successful solution.

Mi-IDEA has been 18 months in the making and was born out of Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration program, which is the company's commitment to work in partnership with a country to speed its national digital agenda.

This space is the latest addition to Cisco's expanding global innovation center presence. Alex Goryachev, who leads Cisco's Innovation Center program says he's excited about this expansion and proud of what's been accomplished in the UK since Cisco first launched its innovation center program with IDEALondon in 2012 after the Olympics in London.

"Through the years our innovation centers have touched hundreds of startups and had a profound impact on the economy. Cisco has been a true catalyst for the innovation ecosystem in the UK," said Goryachev.

Mi-IDEA is a joint venture with Manchester Science Partnerships, well-known in the UK for providing spaces that support emerging science and technology companies. You can check out a 360 view of the building here.

The center will have five focus areas, including the Internet of Things, smart cities, digital healthcare, disruptive technologies, and digital creative like augmented reality and virtual reality.

Mi-IDEA: the place to bee

Despite the grand scale of the building, one project with a tiny participant is showcasing the powerful combination of innovation and IoT. Mi-IDEA is supporting the connected bees project and the Global Initiative for Honey Bee Health, which puts trackable RFID packs on the insects. The work, in conjunction with Data61|CSIRO builds on research that began at Cisco's innovation center in Australia. The goal is to use technology and data to discover what's leading to the colony collapse of bees.

Just as a bee leaves its hive to collect pollen and return to make honey, leaders at Mi-IDEA say startups will come to the center with innovative ideas to produce new technology.

Goryachev sums up the optimism from the launch of the space.

"We look forward to connecting with the best and the brightest startups in Manchester and work with them to build new solutions not only for this city, but the rest of the UK and the world."

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About Kirsten Chiala @kchiala

Kirsten Chiala is the digital content lead for The Network, Cisco's technology news site, and Cisco's corporate social channels. PRNews named her a Top Woman in PR, and Social Mover and Shaker for 2017. She's an Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist and a former executive producer for NBC Bay Area.