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Facebook & BT Admit First Startups Into UK Telecoms Tech Accelerator

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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AI, SDN and Quantum computing firms will have access to £125m in funding and resources at Telecom Infra Project (TIP) accelerator

The first three SMBs to be admitted to a BT-led incubator will have access to more than £125 million in venture capital funding in order to develop their AI, quantum computing and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies. 

The UK Telecom Infra Project Ecosystem Acceleration Centre (TEAC) was first detailed at Mobile World Congress in February and forms part of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), a Facebook initiative for the development of innovative network technologies. 

Unmanned Life has developed an autonomous AI drone platform, while KETS Quantum has created a ‘cost-effective’ chip that could boost the cybersecurity protection afforded to the government and financial sectors. 

Adastral Park, in Martlesham, Ipswich - the epicentre of BT's research, technology and IT operations. Enquiries about this image can be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369.  From outside the UK, dial +44 20 7356.5369.  News releases and images can be accessed at the BT web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre. Mandatory credit: VisMedia

BT network startups 

Meanwhile, Zeetta networks is working on SDN technology for fixed and wireless networks. 

All three were selected by BT, Facebook and other members of the TIP at a pitching session at the BT Tower and will be joined by more startups later this year. 

Besides access to funding, the winners will also receive support and other resources from the TEAC, which is based in London’s Tech City and at BT’s Adastral Park R&D facility. The idea is that they will be able to test their innovations in real life network situations. 

“It’s more important than ever before that we seek expertise not only from our home-grown talent and established partners, but also from newly created small businesses,” said Howard Watson, CTO of BT Technology, Services and Operations (TSO). 

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“By helping innovative SMEs like Zeetta Networks, KETS and Unmanned Life to grow, to scale up, and access the funding they need to develop even more successful businesses, we’re supporting the development of technologies that have the potential to tackle some of our society’s biggest challenges around connectivity, around security, and accessibility of digital services.” 

The TIP was launched in 2016 and boasts more than 400 members from the mobile ecosystem, including operators and manufacturers. It replicates the same secturcutre used by Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP) for data centres. 

“Facebook is looking forward to working with BT and TIP to support this start-up accelerator,” added Yael Maguire, head of connectivity at Facebook. “Working together, we hope to help identify and support innovation from startups in telecom network infrastructure while helping pave the way for future breakthroughs.”    

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