GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 26, 2015 — Steelcase, Amway, Faurecia, Meijer, Spectrum Health and Priority Health have joined Start Garden, the unconventional, early-stage, venture capital fund, to announce the Seamless Coalition and Accelerator, a first-of-its kind collaboration which will bring the enterprises together with startups and entrepreneurs to create the next generation of connected devices.
Dubbed the “Internet of Things” (IoT), this next generation of connected objects and “things” is estimated to have a potential impact of $2-14 trillion on the global economy by 2020. A recent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found, one in every six businesses is planning to roll out an IoT-based product, and more than 75 percent of corporate enterprises are exploring how to use IoT to improve their operations.
The Seamless Accelerator program will provide enterprises with collaborative, light weight, low friction access to emerging technologies and businesses in a region that has quietly manufactured much of the physical spaces and objects encountered in today’s built environment. At the same time, it will provide startups with unprecedented access to intellectual and commercialization capital.
“As soon as a startup adds building physical things to building digital things, it takes a step into a very different world of facilities, global supply chains, and market channel relationships,” Jim Keane, CEO of Steelcase. “The Seamless Accelerator and Coalition merges the best from startup culture and enterprise experience in order to bring to market innovations for our physical environment.”
Startups often possess the right model and offerings to capitalize on emerging trends, but lack the access to scale them quickly and efficiently, especially with manufacturing physical objects. Conversely, enterprises have vast insight and quantification regarding the problems and the value of solving them. However, if the solution lies outside the company’s current core business model they struggle to launch sustainable solutions.
Start Garden will provide a neutral ground for financial, intellectual and social capital to converge from non-competing enterprises working with each other and startups, hosting activity within its new, 16,000 sq.ft. “neighborhood” for the regional startup community. Companies participating in the Seamless Coalition to create the IoT ecosystem include:
- Steelcase [NYSE: SCS], the world’s largest office interiors manufacturer
- Amway, the world’s leading direct selling business
- Meijer, the inventor of “one-stop shopping”
- Faurecia [EPA: EO], world’s largest automotive interiors suppliers
- Spectrum Health, a 1,200 provider health group
- Priority Health, a 626,000 member health insurance provider
“A successful ecosystem is not just made of entrepreneurs and investors, but made of people at established companies who want the creation of new value that startups do best. Grand Rapids is uniquely prepared for Seamless because of our deeply interconnected enterprises,” said Rick DeVos, CEO of Start Garden. “Knowing solutions starts with understanding a problem, and corporations opening their intelligence to startups with new ideas will inform all of us on the capabilities we need and the types of innovations to pursue.”
The Seamless Accelerator will consist of a three-month program, operating in semi-annual cycles, with ten startups working in each cycle. Participants will receive direct access to enterprise leaders working in their field of manufacturing and design, seed capital, as well as the resources of strategic vendor partners.
Seamless is currently seeking its first class of startups specializing in product, technology, data, materials and service companies from all over the world. The goal of the accelerator is to focus on solutions that improve how physical environment can better serve people. Seamless Accelerator is a member of Techstars Global Accelerator Network (GAN). Additional details on Techstars GAN, is available at www.gan.co.
Applications for the Seamless Accelerator program will open on March 27, 2015. Members of the Seamless Coalition will be intimately involved in the selection process. Additional information is available at seamlessaccelerator.com
About Start Garden
Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund, incubator and accelerator, which brings together financial, intellectual and social capital to entrepreneurs by connecting them to resources critical to their growth-stage. Start Garden is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it is founded by Rick DeVos who’s past projects included ArtPrize, 5×5 Night, Momentum and Spout.com.