During the last Inria Industry Meeting organized by PRIME in San Francisco on Smart City, we had the pleasure to interview Francois Oudot. Oudot is Customer Project Manager at SIGFOX in San Francisco. He shared with us Sigfox’s modus operandi on how to work with startups.

Why is Sigfox involved in smart cities initiatives?

At Sigfox, we see ourselves as an enabler of technology. We don’t deliver an integrated solution to a specific customer like cities or any other vertical. So, we want to be involved in as most IoT projects as possible and smart cities are probably one of the most promising market for IoT. Smart Cities represent a great opportunity for the IoT and for all the service providers. This is why Sigfox wants to be part of it!

Can you detail some projects Sigfox is leading?

Our core business is about rolling out network by deploying antennas on rooftops and other buildings. We have one ongoing partnership with the city of San Francisco for which we are installing antennas on the public buildings to cover the entire city. For them, the benefits are double. First, the city of San Francisco will be connected to this network and will be able to develop IoT projects. Second, it will create a whole ecosystem of start-ups that are going to implement solutions on the Sigfox network. This will create jobs locally.

Why is it important to build technology partnerships with start-ups and projects that are so early stage?

We are really horizontal in the value chain, we provide the technology to all sectors irrespective of the market they serve. As a consequence, we really depend on the whole ecosystem. Without this ecosystem, nobody would use our network and Sigfox would die. So it is crucial for us to create these partnerships and to discuss with these start-ups.

How do you envision partnerships with these teams and start-ups?

We envision long-term partnerships with start-ups because if they make a device compatible with Sigfox network, they will depend on the Sigfox technology at least at the beginning. We are very transparent with them and we show them exactly what the partnership works. In addition, we try to create an ecosystem with many start-ups gravitating around us. Our technology is really open, so anybody can build on top of it.