Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

SPARKL and Asset Mapping tell their IDEAL start-up story

May 14, 2015

With the deadline for the Cisco BIG Awards fast approaching, we’ve caught up with two of the start-ups who have benefited from the IDEAL accelerator programme.

Winners of the BIG Awards, and the start-ups which are part of the Cisco BIG programme, benefit from being able to tap into the knowledge and information on tap in the IDEAL community. If that wasn’t attractive enough, award entrants also have the chance of taking a slice of more than £150,000 in funding, as well as mentoring support from Cisco and its partners.

IoE start-up Asset Mapping joined the incubator earlier this year, and they told us how they have been reaping the benefits already.

“Membership at IDEAL really has come at the perfect time for us,” said Bill Clee, Asset Mapping CEO & Founder. “We have moved out of pre-production testing and build and are now engaged with a number of pilot projects with many existing Cisco customers.

“We understand how important it is for innovative SME companies to have the support and interest of large technology companies like Cisco and have already held several constructive meetings with Cisco, UCL and other IDEAL companies.

“Having the credibility of being a member at IDEAL and the support of Cisco is really helping us to grow our business.”

At the other end of the spectrum, SPARKL has just flown the nest. Its six-strong team has moved to new headquarters in Canary Wharf], after spending 18 months in the programme.

The company has a nifty piece of code, known as the SPARKL Sequencing Engine, which automates the way machines work together.
Jacoby Thwaites, CEO and founder of SPARKL, reflected on their time at IDEAL, and described it as a ‘giant stamp of approval’ across the whole the company.

“Being part of IDEAL has given the companies we’re talking to confidence that we have the right ideas, the right tech and the right people selling to them,” he said.

“We have been able to forge relationships with a company like Cisco – which helped SPARKL pass the rigorous IVT testing and bumped us up to Preferred Solution Partner – our company highlight so far!”

So it’s clear, being involved is an attractive proposition for many start-ups. For Asset Mapping, as the Smart Cities lead in the HyperCAT consortium, the firm decided to apply to IDEAL after seeing the potential it could unlock in the organisation.

Bill said: “We were considering where to base our first office space as we have been growing our team and everything slotted into place when we were accepted as IDEAL members.

“We also really like the office space and the office location in Shoreditch, which is the epicenter of London’s digital economy!”

With the huge range of benefits of the programme on offer, winning a BIG Award and a seat on the programme will give a burgeoning start-up a massive leg-up.

For anyone considering entering, Jacoby from SPARKL summed up why the programme had helped them so much over the last couple of years.

“Working for a start-up can be challenging,” he said. “Having other start-ups in IDEAL makes you feel more supported in a pressured environment. There’s always someone to bounce ideas off if you’re stuck in a rut.

“IDEAL is the only one of its kind. It nurtures start-ups into potential, industry-changing companies in a tech city location whilst simultaneously giving us the opportunity to network with, and potentially sell to, a leading IT company like Cisco.”

If you have a fantastic idea, or if you an early stage start-up, then there is still time to enter for a Cisco BIG Award – just to go to the website and submit your application online at

We’re on the hunt for ideas centred on the Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet Of Everything (IoE) – specifically in areas of application enablement, security and real time analytics. The clock is ticking to get your entries in, with the window closing just after midnight on June 1.


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