IBM Opens Innovations Centers to VC-Backed StartupsBy John Hazard | Print
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IBM is helping venture-backed firms speed solutions to market with marketing and technical support at Innovation Centers.
IBM is hoping to drive more innovation out of partners by throwing more resources at the ISVs that venture capital firms say are promising.
IBM will provide venture capital firms and the ISVs they back with added technical, sales and marketing support delivered at its 32 Innovation Centers worldwide to speed solutions to market and drive innovation, Big Blue announced the week of Sept. 18 at its second annual IBM's Venture Capital Symposium.
From the Innovation Centers and remote Virtual Innovation Center, venture firms and qualified ISVs will gain access to work coming from IBM's research units such as virtualization, SOA (service-oriented architecture), blade servers, POWER architecture, Web 2.0 and wireless, giving them a window on emerging technologies and an edge on developing the latest solutions, IBM execs said.
ISVs working in the centers will also benefit from development costs shared by IBM, and have access to IBM hardware and software environments otherwise out of reach, said Drew Clark, director of strategy for the IBM Venture Capital Group.
"Imagine two scenarios where a startup calls on a CIO and he asks 'will you run on our environment?'" Clark said. "One says 'No, we haven't been able to test on that environment. That's expensive and hard to get.'"
"Another firm worked with us in the center," he said. "They can walk in and say they're ready to go. Which one will you buy? It's a scenario VCs like to tell us about."
Nearly 9,500 ISVs used the innovation centers in a similar fashion working on more than 4,000 solutions.
IBM has long used the venture community as a radar on emerging trends and partners, Clark said.
IBM operates an IBM Venture Capital Group, led by Claudia Fan Munce, managing director. The organization assists more than 200 core VC firms and others with education and market information as well as support for the ISVs that they back as a means to encourage investment, Clark said.
The relationship, going on a decade, has been a differentiator for IBM, Clark said.
"They're the experts in investment," Clark said. "VCs back people, not tech or ideas. We know markets, customers and technology, but we don't have the time to look at those things. They can judge whether a CEO has what it takes. They have the risk appetite for this."