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Make Cisco $1 billion and win a job

The I-Prize competition aims to find a new IP-based technology, with the winners likely to be offered a position in the company.

Networking giant Cisco Systems has launched a global competition to find new technology business ideas.

With a strong focus on the use of collaboration tools, the I-Prize competition aims to find IP-based innovations that can earn Cisco at least $1 billion over a five- to seven-year period. The contest was announced Wednesday at the opening of the company's Globalization Center East in Bangalore, India.

"There are large parts of the world where inventors and entrepreneurs don't have ready access to venture capital or other means of funding, but they have excellent ideas," said Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Emerging Markets Technology Group. "We want to give those innovators an outlet and a means to develop their dream."

The prize itself will consist of the winning team having the opportunity to join Cisco as founders of a new emerging-technology business unit. Cisco may invest up to $10 million in the new unit, and is also offering those who get through to the later rounds of the contest the chance to use some of its various collaboration tools.

Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and cannot already be Cisco employees or their family members. Further details are available on the Cisco I-Prize Web site.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.