IBM is the latest multi-national enterprise to realise that helping out today's entrepreneurs could lead to better relationships with tomorrow's IT giants, launching its SmartCamp program in Australia and New Zealand.
SmartCamp is an event that IBM claims will help create a "local IT ecosystem" of mentors, venture capitalists, industry experts and IBM technology gurus for early stage start-ups. Finalists are selected to attend the event, where they will network with these experts and receive mentoring to help accelerate their business. This is the first time it will be launched in Australia and New Zealand.
IBM Australia regional manager for independent software vendors and developer relations, David Mast, said that the start-up community was critical for the future and that IBM would be supporting it through SmartCamp.
"We help talented start-ups, like the recent Boston SmartCamp winner Skyfoundry, to help build a network of valuable contacts that can enable them to grow and take their technology business to the next level. Despite having only three and half employees, IBM sees big potential in its technology to help solve some of society's most pressing challenges," he said.
SmartCamp has won the backing of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), with its CEO Suzanne Campbell indicating that initiatives like IBM's are just some of the ways that the ICT industry can "create a positive environment for home grown IT start-ups to thrive", and ensure that they survive in the future. It is also being sponsored by the Australian National University.
Applications to join the Sydney SmartCamp event close on 15 August. Those that make it through the application process will present their business idea to a Sydney panel of IT experts on 6 September, with one winner receiving a three-month mentorship from IBM and going on to Beijing to compete in the SmartCamp regional event. Winning the regional means they will then progress to the global finals, to compete for IBM's Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Price monitoring service firm Profitero was 2011's global winner, using big data to provide retailers with the necessary information to help maximise profits.