Verizon boosts small businesses at innovation centers

Intwine Connect, Vital Connect and Wi-MM have different business plans, but one major thing in common--their development partnerships with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ).

Intwine Connect, based in based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, makes a connected home solution and air-quality monitor; Vital Connect, which has developed a personal health monitor, is based in Campbell, Calif.; and Wi-MM (Wireless Machine to Machine), creates embedded wireless devices for the cycling community from its base in Santa Clara, Calif. 

All three are nearing commercial readiness, thanks in large part to the efforts of Verizon, and they were on hand this week for the relaunch of the expanded Verizon Innovation Center in San Francisco.

"We believe that Verizon's networks and platforms are a critical catalyst to having these solutions come to life," said Tony Melone, Verizon Communications CTO. He added that the Innovation Center "is certainly not a money-making proposition for Verizon." There is no fee for partners to participate, and any intellectual property the partners develop stays with the partners.

The newly remodeled site complements another in Waltham, Mass., that opened in July 2011. The California center was cofounded with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Cisco, while Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) joined on the Massachusetts location.

The genesis of the innovation centers began five years ago, when Verizon's decision to go with LTE was pushing the envelope on a brand new technology, and the operator "needed an ecosystem to evolve with us," said Melone.

Verizon's network has rolled out to coverage of 290 million POPs and more than 60 percent of its total broadband traffic is being carried over LTE now. The carrier has so far had 300 companies engage with it at its innovation centers producing a dozen products in the market today plus more 100 in the pipeline.

"The major value to this point, from the engineering standpoint, from engaging with the Innovation Center is around selecting the right module. What's the best way to connect our device onto the network? That's been a great help for us," said Intwine President Dave Martin.

"The surprise has been that, despite Verizon's size, everyone moves fast, everyone's welcoming, everybody is open with us, and there's isn't any talking down to the little, small startup. It's really a collaborative effort of peers, getting into a room, solving a problem and doubling a market and that's just been a lot of fun," said Wi-MM President Kevin Fahrner.

For more:
-  see this Verizon video
- see this PCWorld article
- see this PCMag article

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