How to get your startup into the telecoms ecosystem

TEAC Global Programme Leader Marina Traversari

TEAC Global Programme Leader Marina Traversari

  • One good way to enter may be through the TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centers
  • There are three TEACs already up and running and more are likely on the way 
  • We talk with Marina Traversari, Global Programme Lead for TEAC, on how to jump the barriers

One of the efforts to foster innovation in  telecoms -  and perhaps more importantly, to give specific disaggregated innovation a way to  break through into the broad ecosystem -  is via the Telecom Infra Project’s TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centers.

There are currently three operational TEACs, one each in Germany, Korea and the UK with more planned and expected in the near future.  

The approach might be best described as incubation at speed. The TEACs select promising “cutting edge” start-ups with a specific infrastructure technology goal in mind and add operator involvement and laboratory facilities along with innovative investors (both global and local) to the mix. Startups get education facilities, ongoing collaboration and mentoring, access to co-working spaces along with the latest infrastructure, hardware and testing kit.   

Each programme is tailored to the startup’s needs and usually lasts between 12-18 months. The goal is always to develop the technology into a deployable solution complete with successful, accelerated trials. 

Marina Traversari is Global Programme Lead for TEAC. She sets up the programmes, works with the host operators and sets up pitch days for startups (and much more besides). 

I asked her, in terms of approach, what distinguishes TEAC in from other incubators past and present?

“TIP is engineering first and we are about disaggregation and that’s where our differentiator lies,” she says. 

The disaggregation focus means the engineering projects tend to be well bounded and modular which makes them better candidates for completion and commercialisation within a short timescale. 

“Acceleration is important -  we really exist to enable a faster, fresher and more open approach to innovation so speed is absolutely key, along with reach and opportunity. Those are our three keywords at the moment. 

“We have a real opportunity to match what VCs are looking for with what a startup might have to offer. In addition to the disaggregation we are looking to rural telecoms and connecting the unconnected,” she says. 

So what’s on the TEAC agenda?

Marina says TEAC will be scaling up in Q4 this year and into Q1 and 2 next year. More to come on this soon. 

“One of my primary objectives is to strengthen the interplay with the centres so we can get to a point where participants can collaborate with multiple telcos across the world. So if a startup is working with one host operator, they may also have an opportunity to work with all the other centres and all the operators.”

“One of the many things we’ve been looking at is a procurement review and we concluded that there needs to be a procurement best practice when it comes to startups. The process needs to be kept lean as most of them only have small teams so it would be great if someone in the bigger telcos had a smaller team to assist. There needs to be a fast track way to onboard startups with clear timelines because everyone underestimates how long these things take,” she says. 

“The payment terms need to be looked at as well, with shorter timescales for startups to enable them to get access into the market; and they need to be on-boarded quicker. 

“There also needs to be attention given to the different levels of complexity for contracting depending on the scale of work required. Things like simplifying legal requirements - insurance and so on - for the small stuff. It can often just be too much for a startup.”

On Wednesday July 29 Deutsche Telekom are holding open day where a new batch of TEAC winners are to be announced. We’ll be reporting again on the results of that tomorrow

We’ve already been focusing on the difficulties involved in breaking startups into the telecoms infrastructure business. Watch our two, expert-rich, panel sessions on the topic:

Innovation in the Telecoms Ecosystem Part 1

Innovation in the Telecoms Ecosystem Part 2

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