UK accelerator brand Springboard has announced that its original location in Cambridge, UK is being relaunched as a programme focused on the Internet of Things.

The new direction is being backed by partners ARM, Unilever, Neul and Raspberry Pi. It comes at a time when hardware is becoming an increasingly hot area for traditionally software-focused early-stage investors. Just last month, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham blogged about The Hardware Renaissance. It also chimes with what I wrote recently about niche accelerators being a good model for provincial cities in the UK – and if Cambridge has a speciality, it’s undoubtedly hardware.

For the uninitiated, the Internet of Things (IoT) concerns sensors and hardware connected to the Internet – perhaps litter bins that tell a Web app when they’re full, park benches that measure their own usage, fridges that tell you to buy replacement groceries, and the like. The scope of the IoT is huge, so there’s plenty of room for innovation at the new accelerator.

The accelerator will accept ten early-stage (up to Series ‘A’) teams from any area of IoT technology. Springboard is offering $150,000 of free services, seed capital and mentoring during a three-month bootcamp. As with the current Springboard Mobile accelerator in London (which we’re following in our 10 Startups, 13 Intense Weeks video series), there are two funding options: Up to £15,000 per team (£5,000 per founder) plus the programme for a 6% stake. Alternatively, pre-funded teams can do the programme for a 3% stake.

Applications are open now, with a 6th January 2013 deadline, and should be going live around about now at springboard.com.

Image credit: Cimexus