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Startup accelerators aim for 5G

Startup accelerators aim for 5G and keep their large sponsors invested in the next big thing.

The use case is king in 2018: while carriers battle it out to build 5G networks, establishing strong use cases for 5G is equally important. 5G startup accelerators, which are often connected to a large company such as Verizon or an industry group such as CableLabs, help create use cases while they support 5G-focused startups.

Also, it benefits a company to invest in the next technology and perhaps even have first dibs on a promising company.

What is an accelerator? According Harvard Business Review, accelerators help early stage startups with education, mentorship, and money. Companies enter as a part of a group or class — called a cohort — for a fixed term during which they are mentored. A demo day, where cohorts share their company pitches, usually ends the program.

Depending on the program, sometimes seed money investment may be offered.

Verizon’s 5G early access
Verizon opened its Open Innovation lab to startups and academics in December 2017 as a 5G incubator lab in New York’s Silicon Alley. The 5G incubator gives access to Verizon’s network team, product team, and innovation team — and early access to a 5G network. The lab helps take a startups’ idea to prototype and to trials with the pre-commercial 5G technology.

“By unlocking new use cases and experiences, we’re learning how the intelligent edge network can change the way we build products for tomorrow,” according to Verizon’s web site.

Other initiatives:
• Verizon is working on a university spinout accelerator called Combine. NYC Media Lab is a partner in the accelerator.
• Verizon said it planned to foster additional relationships and select new trial participants through new university grants, a partnership with NYU’s Tandon Futures Lab (a leading NYC startup program and AI incubator) and ongoing programming, education, and events at the space to empower the community with the latest tools and thought leadership around 5G.

CableLab’s launched its startup accelerator UpRamp in 2016. UpRamp has several levels of programs for seed level to established later stage startups with funding. UpRamp gives later stage startups direct access to Cable industry leaders through its Fiterator program. Although it serves the cable industry, UpRamp is not limited tocable. Edgewater Wireless, which makes its multi-channel WiFi chip for high-density situations, has gone through the UpRamp program.

Applications just closed on May 4.

Ericsson’s Startup incubator program
Ericsson Garage launched its program for startups. You need to be near one of the seven Ericsson’s Garage spaces around the globe, as working in situ is part of the deal. They offer six months of coaching and use of Ericsson’s space. The Garage starts with pre-seed — the idea — and helps develop the prototypes.

Ericsson also has Ericsson Ventures, which invests in the internet of things, software-defined networking, wireless, augmented reality, connected car, artificial intelligence and machine learning, among others.

AT&T Foundry
AT&T Foundry brings startups, developers, industry technology providers and AT&T movers and shakers together. The foundry claims to have worked on over 500 projects and deployed dozens of new products and services. For instance, the group started an edge computing test zone in Palo Alto, California, announced in February.

The Foundry’s innovation centers are in six cities around the world.

Samsung Next
From seed to Series B, Samsung Next mostly invests in software and services companies that could benefit Samsung. The group finds new growth opportunities for Samsung, using venture capital, parterships, M&A and product development. Samsung NEXT Ventures is the investment arm of Samsung NEXT. Although not specifically pitching 5G — Samsung is interested in IoT — the investing unit may be broad enough to find 5G ideas interesting.

Nokia Startup Incubation Project
Nokia offers a co-working space in its Philippines office (Building I, at UP-Ayala Technohub, Quezon City, Philippines), with access to its research lab, mentorship, and the potential to use Nokia accessories such as its drones. The project focuses on supporting start-ups in IoT, data analytics, cloud computing and open base station technologies.


Susan Rambo
Susan Rambo
Susan Rambo covers 5G for RCR Wireless News. Prior to RCR Wireless, she was executive editor on EE Times,,, Planet Analog and EBNOnline. She served also EE Times’ editor in chief and the managing editor for Embedded Systems Programing magazine, a popular how-to design magazine for embedded systems programmers. Her BA in fine art from UCLA is augmented with a copyediting certificate and design coursework from UC Berkeley and UCSC Extensions, respectively. After straddling the line between art and science for years, science may be winning. She is an amateur astronomer who lugs her telescope to outreach events at local schools. She loves to hear about the life cycle of stars and semiconductors alike. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter @susanm_rambo.

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