ARM wants to fast-track IoT development in China with new accelerator

The company's new program is designed to help Chinese companies working in the Internet of Things industry

ARM Thundersoft

Executives of ARM and China's Thundersoft at the announcement for an IoT accelerator program in Beijing on Sept. 7, 2015.

Credit: Michael Kan

As if Chinese factories weren't already producing enough of our gadgets, chip designer ARM Holdings wants to help Chinese startups produce more wearable devices, robots and smart home products. To that end, the U.K. company is setting up an "accelerator" in Beijing staffed with experts who can provide Chinese companies with tips on product design including which chips or software to use.

It's the first time ARM has created such a program, and its aim is to remove any barriers that might hinder Chinese startups from quickly delivering their products.

The country is already home to numerous companies, large and small, developing smartphones, wearables and other connected devices. However, local startups typically possess few resources, and not enough know-how to quickly deliver their products, according to ARM.

Some of the challenges they face include selecting the right components, optimizing the device's software, or finding out which operating system best fits their needs. ARM's accelerator program wants to address these challenges by providing workshops, training and design services relating to the company's own chip designs.

The U.K. company is best known for supplying the processor technology used in most smartphone and tablets. But ARM also wants to expand its business into IoT areas such as smart cities, smart homes and healthcare, where its low-power consuming processors could flourish.

ARM CEO China Michael Kan

ARM CEO Simon Segars in Beijing, China September, 2015.

Last year, the company announced its mbed platform to help vendors build IoT systems. So it's no surprise that ARM's accelerator in China will also be offering design services around mbed.

But on Monday in Beijing, ARM's CEO Simon Segars said that the accelerator will also open itself to other IoT platforms from other companies. The goal is to essentially connect Chinese startups with the appropriate suppliers and vendors, many of whom are already partners with ARM, he added.

The accelerator will work through a company ARM has established with Beijing-based Thundersoft, which already specializes in helping smartphone and tablet vendors refine the software on their devices. The accelerator's first office will be based in Beijing, but to reach more startups, four or five other offices will be set up across the country over the next year or so. All Chinese companies are invited to join.

The new program will surely help promote ARM's chip designs and software, but it could also assist Chinese vendors in creating successful IoT products, said Kitty Fok, an analyst with research firm IDC.

In the future, ARM could even advise these Chinese startups on what opportunities are emerging in the market, or which customers to target, she added.

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