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The internet of things means that, by 2020, 50 billion devices are likely to be connected (Photo: Beecham Research)

Deutsche Telekom, Intel and Cisco have launched a joint program to help startup companies develop internet-of-things projects. The three IT groups said, in a joint press release, that they will provide advice, make their corporate resources available, and, on some occasions, provide strategic investment.

The program, called "Challenge Up!" aims to accelerate startup projects in areas such as smart city, connected cars, wearables, industry 4.0 information security, big data and cloud computing.

“With an expected 50 billion things connected to the internet by 2020, the internet of everything opens up great opportunities," Mike Flannagan, vice president of data & analytics at Cisco, said. "To help better address these opportunities, Challenge Up! brings together the best of the technology world in an ecosystem of open innovation.”

Deutsche Telekom is Germany's biggest telecommunications group. Cisco is a networking specialist and Intel is the world's leading maker of computer chips. The companies made their announcement at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.