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Cisco offers $250k for your billion dollar idea

And - what the heck - a Flip phone

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Ever dream of coming up with the word's next billion-dollar idea – then handing it over to Cisco for a chance to win a 0.025 per cent cut of that billion? Well, now's your next big chance, you silly goose!

The network giant has launched its second-ever “I-Prize" contest to tap great business and technology ideas from you, the “Human Network" (AKA: the person not on Cisco's payroll).

But it won't be easy. Entrepreneurs from across the world will compete innovative-head-to-innovative-head for chance to fatten Cisco's wallet and win $250,000 in prize money. The contest follows Cisco's last I-Prize tourney launched back in 2007, which it claims drew nearly 2,500 entrants and resulted in a new business unit. Cisco said ideas from contest two may create “the seed idea for Cisco's next billion-dollar business.”

The submissions are required to fall into one of four categories: 1) the future of work using the network, 2) the future of entertainment, 3) the “connected life," and 4) new ways to learn. [author's note: finally a new chance to pitch my "Sharkbook Pro" idea that Intel so foolishly passed on.]

Cisco is also using the event to show off its new hosted email and social networking software its been so sweet on lately. Participants will use Cisco Show and Share for video, WebEx for conferencing, Cisco Pulse for tagging content, and Cisco Telepresence for additional collaboration stuffs.

After you submit your billion-dollar idea, it will be viewable by registered participants to comment, suggest ideas, and form teams, and be vote on. Based on votes and a Cisco evaluation team, the company will then select 32 semifinalists who will work with Cisco experts to create a business plan and create a presentation – using more Cisco collaboration tools, of course. Up to eight finalist teams will present their business ideas to a judging panel to compete for a grand prize of $250,000 shared equally by members of the winning team.

Some active participants in round one may receive Flip Video cameras for playing along.

“The Cisco I-Prize competition has been very successful in helping Cisco generate new business ideas from all over the world across a number of exciting industries," said Marthin De Beer, Cisco's senior VP of emerging technologies.

A Cisco spokeswoman told El Reg that for its second I-Prize contest, the emphasis will be on creating innovative ideas rather than forming a new Cisco business unit around the winning submission. To that end, it's removed the promise of $10m in funding over the first three years for the grand prize. However, Cisco could still agree to license the idea if both sides are willing.

Cisco's business for Smart Connected Buildings was based on the first I-Prize winning team's energy management idea, the company told us. ®

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