To better understand how to stay relevant in a mobile and hyper-connected world, the cable industry is turning to Silicon Valley’s tech entrepreneurs.

As Reuters originally reported, major industry players like Time Warner Cable to Comcast are involved with an ongoing effort to set up a research center in the Bay Area.

Louisville, Colorado-based CableLabs, a not-for-profit research and development consortium with cable operators as its members, has been tasked with leading the effort. It has been around since 1988, and boasts almost 200 employees, including researchers, programmers and consultants.

The center hopes to work on projects with tech startups (primarily in the mobile, communications and networking space) hire engineers, and forge a relationship with Stanford, located a stone’s throw from top-notch research facilities like SRI.

Cable execs hope this initiative will be a lifeboat in treacherous waters. The industry has been doubly hurt in recent years. The younger generation is increasingly turning to competing services like Netflix and Hulu, and in harsh economic times, thousands of existing customers cut their cable or satellite subscription to curb monthly expenses.

Smartphone-carrying youth are among the most dedicated users of Silicon Valley’s tech startups. For this reason, the researchers will focus their efforts on developing mobile technology so young viewers will be able to watch their favorite cable series (Girls and Homeland drew in the highest ratings this season) on the go.

The industry needs to “get re-energized,” Jerald Kent, chief executive of Cequel Communications and co-founder of Charter Communications, told Reuters. “Part of the message is this is not your grandmother’s cable business.”

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