Like most great technological advancements, the Internet of Things (IoT) allows today’s innovators to imagine a better world. The IoT could lead to a vast array of products, some of which could prove revolutionary. The thing is, the industry is still trying to identify just what those products might be. The exploration of IoT is young, its potential still a bit mysterious. That's why one Boulder-based accelerator hopes to demystify it.
Boomtown, the startup accelerator, recently announced that Comcast Labs will help sponsor a new IoT-focused lab in Boulder. The lab will be accessible to anyone, according to Boomtown founder and managing director Toby Krout, and it will allow tech entrepreneurs to dive deep into the IoT, extend beyond imagination and develop potential products.
“Both we and Comcast believe that right now it’s impossible to predict where the products, services and value is going to be created in the IoT. We’re right at the beginning of this explosion of innovation,” Krout said. “Part of the lab, and part of the involvement of players like Comcast, is to have a lense to see what might be coming up in the future.”
The lab, which Boomtown and Comcast Labs hope will open in May during Boulder Startup Week, will have a focus on the intersection of media and IoT, but it won’t be limited to only that, Krout said. Entrepreneurs in the lab could inspect the IoT as it relates to various sectors, including big data, health and wearable devices.
About one year old, Boomtown hosts two yearly 12-week accelerator sessions, each of which cater to 10 startups. The sessions take place at a 5,500-square-foot facility in downtown Boulder. Krout said the IoT lab will essentially be an extension of Boomtown.
“We really believe that in order to be a technology accelerator in the near future, you’re going to have to have the technology, equipment and expertise available to your startups,” Krout said.
He said entrepreneurs and companies worldwide have expressed interest in using the lab, and companies like Parkifi, Wuf and Chui — all participants of a Boomtown session — will use the new space.
Though Krout said Boomtown is not disclosing the cost of the lab, he said it could be “inexpensively” constructed. However, the more sponsors that want to be involved, the better the space will be for entrepreneurs, Krout said.
Comcast Labs: a catalyst for innovation
Other sponsors — such as Zayo Group and Holland & Hart — are lining up to support the lab, according to Krout. But Comcast Labs is the first finalized sponsor and is underwriting the lab's construction.
Four years ago, Comcast launched Comcast Labs to — as executive director Joshua Seiden said — “act as a catalyst for innovation.” With three U.S. facilities — one in Denver, another in Sunnyvale, Calif., and a third in Philadelphia — along with a presence in Tel Aviv, Comcast Labs surveys markets for new, innovative technologies that interest Comcast.
He said the lab appealed to Comcast Labs for three main reasons: the media focus could expose Comcast Labs to interesting companies or technologies, Colorado is home to 7,000 Comcast employees, the second largest concentration outside of its headquarters in Philadelphia and, last but not least, Seiden said IoT technologies are a great match for Comcast’s platform.
“If you look at our network and our products, we think that we’re a very good platform for IoT services to ride on top of,” Seiden said, referencing the host of connected devices Comcast already deploys, including home security systems, its high speed data product and its wifi.
If Comcast Labs identifies technologies or companies that could be a fit, Seiden said a number of opportunities could arise, such as proof of concept, investment or even licensing. If Comcast Labs successfully produces a prototype, Seiden said other branches of Comcast will take over from there.
“Our internal customer is the business units,” Seiden said. “We’re really trying to build the next ideas that our much larger business units can deploy and turn into real products.”
Assuming construction stays on schedule, people from around the world will join Comcast Labs and Boomtown in the quest to create valuable, IoT products.
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