Cisco backs UK IoT start ups with $150M investment

Cisco committed to investing $150 million (€134 million) in UK Internet of Things (IoT) start ups as part of a broader plan to pump $1 billion into the country's digital economy.

The U.S.-based infrastructure company announced a major extension of its UK investment strategy following a meeting with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Business Secretary Sajid Javid, Cisco chairman and CEO John Chambers, incoming Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, and Cisco UK CEO Phil Smith.

In a statement, Cisco said its UK IoT investments will focus on the financial, retail and healthcare industries, along with smart city development. The company also plans to acquire businesses focussing on wireless software, next generation video delivery, and cloud-based security technologies. Cisco is also aiming to make corporate investments to accelerate innovation in cyber-security.

"We believe the UK is well on its way to becoming one of the top digitised countries in the world," Chambers said, adding that Cisco has "delivered over and above on every objective we set with the government" as part of a $500 million investment made by Cisco in 2011.

The latest investment also covers extending the work of the Cisco Networking Academy--an education programme established to boost the number of students utilising science, technology, engineering and maths skills--to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

Cisco said its latest investment will also seek to address UK government concerns about a north/south economic divide by adding new centres of expertise, funding university collaborations, investing in skills and expanding apprenticeship programmes. The company said the UK is its second largest country market and that it plans to add 200 new jobs to its operations in the market, and construct a new "state of the art" office in central London by the end of the year.

David Cameron said Cisco's investment plan "is great news for the UK's growing digital economy" and a "clear vote of confidence in our long term economic plan."

The Financial Times noted that the UK is an increasingly attractive market for digital and technology investors, with figures from research company Dow Jones VentureSource showing that funding for companies operating in those spaces increased from $1.1 billion in 2011 to $1.9 billion in 2014.

Cisco in February announced a similar ($100 million) investment in France's digital economy as part of an overseas investment programme the company started eight years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported.

For more:
- view Cisco's announcement
- see this Financial Times article [subscription required]
- view this Wall Street Journal report

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