Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Make ‘a’ space for our IoT makerspace – thingQbator

October 12, 2016

Name three countries that you’d consider to be driving the tech agenda. If the UK isn’t on your list, then we have some work to do.

There are a number of reasons that it should be. Whether legacy, current or future initiatives, we have a culture of innovation and fostering new ideas that we saw emphasis placed on in last week’s statement from Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

Innovation is such a broad term, and at Cisco we weave it through our business. We know that our strength comes from a number of places – whether the partnerships that we have, joint-initiatives that we run across industry and with government, the start ups that we invest in or not least the wealth of talented engineers that we have here in the UK.

On any of those levels, it all starts with an idea. Albeit an idea that someone took a chance on. And that’s exactly what we are doing with our newest employee initiative. Launched today at our UK Head Office, thingQbator, an Internet of Things (IoT) lab and makerspace is a place where employees can bring an idea, get access to the latest technology to help develop it, and connect with colleagues who have skills to share.

The objective of the program is to set up a network of interconnected makerspaces across the company, where engineers can turn their IoT ideas into working prototypes and beyond. We’re providing a geek playground for our engineering community (and anyone else who wants to join) to channel their energy and passion for IoT.

As the name implies, thingQbator is equipped with all types of Cisco and 3rd party Internet of ‘Things’ gear and platforms. If you walk into our makerspace, you will find almost every kind of development board, sensor and communications module, as well as equipment like 3D printers and soldering stations. You will also find cutting-edge technologies, like drones and virtual and augmented reality headsets. All of these tools help participants explore what’s possible and enable them to turn ideas into working prototypes.

But that’s not the end of the story. In addition to tools and equipment, thingQbator provides a structured mentorship and training program to guide participants throughout the development process. We connect people taking part in the programme to mentors specializing in the field of their project. We also host workshops to expose participants to different technologies. Most recently, we ran a two-day immersive workshop – DroneStars – in the thingQbator in Bangalore, where 60 participants built and flew their own quadcopters and learned about platforms and APIs for developing advanced drone use cases.

Every quarter we host demo days where participants showcase their projects to executives, business unit leaders and the broader Cisco community. Depending on the nature of the projects, some of them are taken into business units to further develop into Cisco solutions; others are being implemented as pilots across Cisco offices.

Now with thingQbator in Bangalore and Bedfont Lakes and more upcoming locations in the pipeline, we continue to build Cisco’s global community of developer evangelists. Engineers from different locations collaborate on projects, support each other’s initiatives and learn from each other. You never know what great ideas people come up with when you have them talking to each other.

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