Virgin Media Opens Superfast ‘Innovation Lab’


Virgin Media is creating an innovation lab to develop new products and services for superfast broadband

Virgin Media is teaming up with London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ startup incubator TheCube to create what it calls an ‘innovation lab’.

The idea is that members of TheCube will test and develop new products and services that will be delivered across superfast broadband. This potentially includes “next generation digital entertainment, mobile and business services”.

This innovation lab will be officially unveiled during a visit by Prime Minister David Cameron to celebrate the first anniversary of Tech City, the official name of the Silicon Roundabout, on Thursday.

Innovation Lab

So what exactly is this so called ‘innovation lab’ going to do? Well it seems TheCube members will work on evolving Virgin Media products before they are launched to customers. Experts from Virgin Media, as well as entrepreneurs and tech start-ups, are also expected to pitch in with their own thoughts and ideas.

“The collaboration aims to push superfast connectivity to its limits with new applications and services, make the most of Virgin Media’s new TiVo Service and its innovative apps line-up, develop ground-breaking consumer mobile platforms, and new propositions that will enable organisations across the UK to innovate and grow,” said Virgin Media.

One of the first projects the lab will focus on is a trial of a secure business-grade Internet connection from Virgin Media Business. TheCube will apparently resell its dedicated 1Gbps Internet access on a “flexible commercial basis to its members”.

“The trial will run throughout the next year and is provided to TheCube free of charge,” Virgin Media said. “During this time, the incubator will explore a range of commercial models and package the service so its users can benefit from superfast and dedicated Internet connections without the need for long-term contracts.”

Alternative Views

“The start-up community has a lot to offer British businesses and, with technology and innovation at its heart, our partnership with TheCube gives us a fresh, informed and alternative point of view on how to take our products and services forward”, said Dale Barnes, director of Advanced Technology and Innovation at Virgin Media.

“We’re making the most of our unique fibre-optic network to deliver the connectivity start-ups need to get their venture moving in the right direction and it’s an exciting time to explore new ways of working,” he added.

“Spaces like TheCube are pioneering a new type of business in the UK and we can take our approach even further by partnering with one of the UK’s leading digital companies,” said Araceli Camargo, founder of TheCube. “Virgin Media is bringing new services to our members, providing entrepreneurs with previously inaccessible technology, and we’re working with them to make the most of the talent at TheCube, and the experience and expertise at Virgin Media.”

According to its Website, the TheCube was founded in September, 2009, as a direct response to the Lehman Brothers collapse. “The most obvious and direct solution was to tribe people via social media and then provide a physical space from which to brainstorm, innovate and collaborate,” it reads.

One Year On

It has been a relatively busy year for the Silicon Roundabout. The area around Old Street received a boost when it was given a 1.5Gbps broadband trial by Virgin Media, which the company said was a resounding success.

In September, Google said it would take a ten year lease on a building in the area that will provide office space for other start-ups and entrepreneurs, and will host a range of activities, with speaker events, hackathons, training workshops, and product demonstrations.

Other big names are also starting to move the area, which is rapidly emerging as something of a hub for Internet companies and start-ups. So far Tech City has gained investment from GoogleCisco, Yammer, and others. It has also been considered for Twitter’s European headquarters.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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