Editor’s note: RIoT, which stands for Regional Internet of Things, is a fast-growing organization with nearly 3,000 members that is focused on growing the IoT industry across North Carolina and elsewhere. Earlier this week, the NC IDEA Foundation chose RIoT as one of nine grant recipients sharing nearly $1.2 million in its new Ecosystem Partner Grant program. The RIoTers, as they call themselves, are thrilled – and humbled – to have been selected. They have big plans for growth and how to use the funds.
RIoT, which recently changed its name from NC RIoT, will receive $100,000 for events, training, promotion, and talent attraction statewide for the Internet of Things (IoT) sector
“[T]his activity has the potential to attract people from outside the state, and has appeal to large established businesses and startups alike,” said NC IDEA CEO Thomas Ruhe. “It is a great opportunity for corporate engagement with and in support of entrepreneurs.”
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Co-founders Matthew Davis and Larry Steffann share their thoughts about winning the grant – and what it means to the organization.
WAKE FOREST, N.C. – We’re humbled and thrilled to be a part of NC IDEA’s first Ecosystem Partner Grant. You can read press about it here.
When we first heard of the program, we believed RIoT was an excellent fit. Our community is strong, and aligned together on a common mission of building our IoT ecosystem. After spending time with Thom Ruhe, the CEO of NC IDEA, we fell in love with their approach. In addition to building an IoT community, all of these communities in the cohort should be working together, building a statewide ecosystem.
When we look at the North Carolina today, the components that make up an IoT hub exist here today. Two of the largest analytics companies, SAS & IBM, operate here, alongside numerous startups like Brightwolf and Validic. Cisco, one of the biggest networking companies, has a major presence here. All of the semiconductor players such as STMicroelectronics, NXP, and Nordic play significant roles. We have major universities and an incredibly strong statewide community college system that churns out new talent and research. And of course the Wireless Research Center hosts a world-class testing facility in Wake Forest.
What Larry and I set out to build is the connective tissue that bridges these groups together, along with the companies that can benefit from IoT solutions. If we walk in stride and work together, we’ll go farther, faster.
This new grant funding allows RIoT to take many of our strategic ideas on paper and bring them to life. If our purpose is to build and IoT ecosystem that supports economic development, we can continue our expansion beyond networking events. We’ll always have epic RIoT events, but now we put more emphasis on education and company development.
Under Tom Snyder’s leadership, we launched RIoT ED earlier this. You’ll see more education programs taking off in 2017. They’ll be designed not only to educate the existing tech workforce, but more importantly, bring the “buyers of IoT” to the table. We’ll partner with our community to find the companies that will benefit from IoT solutions, and educate their leadership about the technology, and solutions to problems new and old.
We’ll also add a physical location for RIoT, designed to help foster, mentor, and advise IoT companies. The space, dubbed RIoT Labs, will also include testing equipment and will be in partnership with HQ Raleigh.
We’ve come along way since our first Meetup of 80 people two years ago. Thanks to great content, speakers, events, and the RIoTers that attend our events, we now have over 3,000 members across the state. While only a few IoT groups across the country boast larger total numbers, the RIoT community is the most active in the nation, drawing the largest crowds. We’re also the first to receive a grant to build an ecosystem…that’s very exciting for us.
Whether or not we’re calling this whole movement Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, or disruptive technology doesn’t matter. What matters is that collectively, we’re at the early stages of very exciting times, and a few inescapable technology trends.
We’re excited to be playing a part in it all.