Vodafone Opens Silicon Valley Startup Accelerator

Everyone these days seems to be getting into the startup accelerator business. Why not an international mobile phone giant?

Why not, indeed. Vodafone on Thursday become the latest institution to open a Silicon Valley accelerator with the aim of sparking innovation, and, according to a press release set for distribution, providing “potential financial assistance.”

In an interview, Fay Arjomandi, a head of U.S. R&D, played down the equity side of the center. “We may choose to invest,” she said, referring to Vodafone’s venture capital arm.

The real target of the Vodafone Xone is to offer a fast track for new products to conduct user trials in as little as nine months. The idea is to “identify and qualify innovative technologies from startups, R&D labs, universities and venture capital portfolios,” according to the release.

Change is afoot, says Arjomandi. It used to take years to bring products to market. Now the cycle has shrunk to six to nine months.

The Redwood City center has room for 24 startups and will provide technical expertise and logistical support.