IBM EMEA Innovation and Venture Capital Centre

I am at this shindig today at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (WIFI 15 euro for the day). Is IBM going to lob a bit of cash at the Irish Software Sector? Oops, they just said they are not an investment house, they want to partner and “add value”. I’ll get my coat 😉

Hang on, they are interested in acquisitions they might buy me. Ok, that’s cool, we can go with that.

In Dublin IBM’s technology Centre  is focused on RFID. 

This is going to be a state of the art facility (not built yet, planned to open in the Summer).  There is a terrible graphic of the centre, the entrance looks like an old Cray computer.

IBM is focused on working collaboratively with VC backed partners at seed, early stage and late stage VC backed companies. The seed guys are pretty far out there on the slide. i.e. I can’t see LouderVoice, Sxoop, MySay and PutPlace getting a lot of attention.

Objectives of the centre:

  • Build relationships with business partners
  • Assist VC backed companies leverage IBM products, services, research, mentoring
  • Open eyes and ears
  • Assist VC backed companies in driving revenue

Question: What are the qualification criteria for access to the centre’s services? Deborah in next section will answer.

Question: Will IBM provide VC? No.

Deborah Magid – The IBM model for supporting entrepreneurs and Startups

  • Innovation that matters is innovation applied
  • Innovation is technology + business
  • We have offices in every country in the globe it is legal to operate in
  • Business Strategy – Business Value, Infrastructure Value, Component Value
  • Business Management Focus – Core Business, Growth Business, Emerging Opportunities
  • Emerging Opportunities : test business models, prove viability, test growth e.g. RFID, Open Source, Retail, Web 2.0, Virtual worlds, Web Services/SOA, CleanTech/Energy, SaaS
  • Will evangelise partners technology when appropriate

IBM Corporate Venture Group

  • Its not about money, its about the innovation ecosystem
  • No investment via cash, more about technical and marketing resources
  • We build relationships between VC and Entrepreneurs
  • Group has sector and geographic focus
  • 1300 venture backed partners today
  • Go to and click on the link for partners program to join

What do we do?

  • Exchange ideas with VCs (business models, technologies)
  • Connect high potential companies with VCs
  • Scout for companies that may fill gaps in the IBM portfolio
  • Introduce promising business partners at partner world
  • Act as a channel for strategy, information and exploration of business opportunities

Partner program has Member, Advanced, ISV Advantage and Strategic Alliance levels. More IBM go juice is available at each level.

IBM goes to market by vertical  industry (IBM’s industry definitions).  Its pretty much focused on business play’s so companies like mine are SOL.

There is a partner portal (yawn). It has social networking (double yawn).

The innovation centre will give you access to IBM software and hardware for testing (both locally hosted and remote access to mainframe).

IDC says IBM has the best partner program (go IBM!)

They listed five European companies as successes. Has anybody else heard of Volubill, Unicorn (IBM acquired), dbMotion, Definiens or LightSands Communications? Are there no Irish successes that IBM has been involved in?

In 2006 4.1bn dollars of of VC was placed. Biggest investment in 4 years.


Michel Duponchel – Digital Convergence

  • Movement from Massive/Passive TV viewing public to “Coolkids/Gadgeteers” who want much more control over what they watch and how they watch.
  • There is a generational chasm between these groups
  • Interactivity is the key
  • The beginning of the end of TV is emerging
  • Content is accessible from a number of sources and devices (not just TV)
  • The threats to existing players, Telcos, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple
  • Digital home value chain – Content, Access, Platforms
  • The layers in this chain are currently linked together by a single vendor e.g. Sky
  • Consumers want choice and the ability to pick and choose the best of breed in each of these layers
  • TCP/IP as a distribution medium disintermediates TV companies (and governments!)
  • Telcos deliver quality of service

Michel finished his talk with a bunch of slides indicating some architectures that IBM was using to resolve the issues existing telcos, network operators and content producers are facing. Lots of big hardware with Tivoli, WebSphere, MQ and BPEL4WS (for the love of Christ!). Think about getting no change out of 10m dollars and you’ll get the picture.

I asked him how IBM was planning to address the issue regarding businesses (such has content producers) who are starting to operate on margins and can’t afford the huge sunk cost of an IBM techstack? He said they would service the service providers who supply such services.

Didn’t seem to know about EC2 and S3.  Ouch!

8 thoughts on “IBM EMEA Innovation and Venture Capital Centre

  1. We’re on the partner program due to some work we did in the old days (2005).

    The first useful mail I got from them was last week where they offered the “Virtual Loaner Program”:

    The Virtual Loaner Program offers you easy access to IBM BladeCenter blades and IBM System x servers. You can size, develop, port, test, debug, evaluate or demonstrate your solutions at no cost – and it’s easy Determine how fast your application can run in this environment using the Virtual Loaner Program – an automated on demand remote access program

    If I had some spare time I’d consider checking it out, but I don’t.


  2. “innovation applied” seems like Marketing goobldy-goog (heh if u can com up ith a bater speling i all 4 it!)… ditto 4 “innovation ecosystem”

    Its nice 2 know they have offices where its legal. Does that mean they don’t work with drug cartels or mafia-osa?

    Ok the ..
    . Scout for companies that may fill gaps in the IBM portfolio
    . Introduce promising business partners

    makes sense. At least that seems ‘honest’

    Whats the price and criteria on …The innovation centre will give you access to IBM software and hardware for testing …
    That could be useful for testing scaling issues or large volume/stress testing. More of value if u’re an ‘enterprise’ play and need 2 try and integrate your stuff with IBM-land

    What u don’t know what BPEL4WS means – awh come on – even my granny (if she was alive) ‘might’ know it or make it up – business processes Man! come-on get with it…

    so looks like the whole session was orientated towards enterprise players that can play in IBM land and smooze up with channel partners and all that lingo.

    So as u indicate SOL 4 Irish Web 2.0 type startups!

    Now (as u didn’t get any Wifi) did they at least give u some T n biscuits?
    Was there any survey/feedback forms?



  3. My comment about BPEL4WS was more about how slow and unsuited for it is for compute intensive workflows like render farms, which is what Michel was suggesting as a use case.

    Tea and biscuits and lunch were provided, but I had to leave before the lunch was served.


  4. 15 euros for WiFi is bad. In addition, I had to pay 7 euros for parking after spending a lot of money to host the event for 120 people.

    I’m genuinely interested to hear about success partnering examples in Ireland to show that this can work here as well as the valley, Israel, etc…..

    p.s I’ll get some better pics when the architects enter the 21st century.


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