The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has launched a new membership category to try and bring more startups into the consumer electronics fold.
The CEA -- which represents thousands of consumer electronics firms -- has created the new $95 membership category as a means of "fostering innovation" in a stagnant economy.
Regular membership fees begin at $850 per year and can go as high as $40,000, depending on a company's annual revenues. Membership includes free registration for the Consumer Electronics Show.
The trade association says it can better serve both "new and established" companies with the new membership category, and that in turn it can then provide more support and resources for firms just starting out. Gary Shapiro, CEA's president and CEO, said:
Startups are jumpstarting our economy and are paving the way for America's future. Creating a unique membership category for startups is another way we are pursuing our strategic goal of promoting innovation, the lifeblood of our industry. Many of the individuals behind startups have put all of their resources on the line to make sure their companies have the best chance of succeeding.
Every bit of support we can offer as an organization is critical not only to advancing the consumer electronics industry but also to ensuring the world's most cutting-edge technologies end up in consumers' hands.
The $95 membership fee isn't available to every startup. Would-be members "must be in development of a technology product, service or app" that has either been introduced commercially within the last year or that's due for launch in 2013. In addition, companies must be located in North America, have annual sales of less than $1 million and must not have been a CEA member within the past two years. If you qualify, the "reduced rate" fee will apply for two years.
Over 2000 tech-based firms are currently registered with the CEA, which says that the U.S. consumer electronics industry is currently worth $206 billion.
The announcement comes just a few weeks ahead of CES 2013, which will be taking place on January 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nev. The show is an annual platform for both established firms and startups to market their products and ideas. CEA will accept applications for the new scheme starting January 3.