Minnesota DEED Trade Office hosted a Smart Water Round Table event at the Uponor corporation on May 10th, 2018. Featured were a host of IoT companies showcasing their work in smart water solutions. The audience and speakers who attended came from as far away as Europe and South America. This event came on the heels of the Minnesota IoT Fuse conference. The solutions they covered spanned a vast array of topics including: precision agriculture, water treatment, smart cities, transportation, city infrastructure optimization, etc. The companies also represented specializations in hardware & sensors, data aggregation and analytics, and business model development.
The 2018 IoT Fuse Conference was an amazing event to participate in. It featured a large roster of speakers and covered all layers of IoT stack from hardware, platform, and industry companies. Minnesota is one of the largest and fastest growing IoT ecosystems in North America and is positioned to become a global center of IoT expertise. The opportunity at hand is for Minnesota to recognize the lead it currently has and begin a larger regional initiative to develop it the ecosystem to systematically build, support and attract each layer of the industry by creating true regional advantage for the industry to flourish. It must also understand the growth opportunities of both the immediate horizontal or cross sector integration opportunities to existing industries , in addition, to the vertical sector develop that will eventually occur as IoT itself becomes its own complete sector. Global competition and other US cities are not sitting still and may be more aggressive in their attempts to become a global leader.
I attended the overview of the Kansas City Living Lab. This is an impressive initiative centered developing solutions for smart cities. The city has been declared “open” for entrepreneurs in IOT to develop and live test their solutions with the partnership of the city and economic development organizations. They are developing a strong brand as a leading smart city and IOT hub. It is attracting companies and start-ups to the region and the real world results are creating proven case studies of solutions. I look forward to visiting the city in the next year to see how this story evolves.
The Minnesota Department of Economic Development hosted the first open IOT meeting to discuss the state’s future in the IOT industry. A wide and diverse group of stakeholders attended this event that offered discussion around the state assets and activities in the many aspects of the IOT industry. As of the time of the meeting, it was suggested that Minnesota currently holds a lead over most states in the IOT space. This is based on the level of activity featuring over 3000+ identified companies working in IOT infrastructure or implementing significant IOT solutions into their current business operations. While IOT represents many layers of technology and design it is still built on connected systems architectures that have been around for many years. Several of the systems integrators spoke to decades of experience in these spaces and that they are serving global clients in new IOT solutions. Currently, Minnesota is also a leader in hosting Industry events, like IOT Fuse, that attracts attendees from far outside of Minnesota.
The conversation also covered other areas of the United States that are now putting the focus on cultivating IOT industry and workforce. International examples looked at the IOT clusters in Germany where also discussed the need to Minnesota to actively develop a regional strategy to capitalize on our current lead in the field. Cluster development is growing in size and investment across the globe. Minnesota has been slow to create a vision of the future for the state’s industries much less a play for new emerging industries. While the state is rich in all forms of assets, the leadership to develop a shared vision is still an opportunity waiting to happen for the region.
See event photos in the gallery