IBM sets up VC advisory council to boost partnerships

IBM announced the formation of a new Venture Capital Advisory Council Monday to help the company identify potential new global partnerships.

IBM has announced the formation of a new Venture Capital Advisory Council, an organisation initially made up of seven venture capital (VC) firms and Big Blue executives.

The aim of the council is to help IBM identify potential new partnership opportunities around the world as well as receive feedback on how best to tailor its partner programs to appeal to start-up companies, according to an IBM executive.

"It's a collaboration investment network, how to tap into the whole notion of collaboration innovation," director of strategy with IBM's Venture Capital Group, Drew Clark, said.

Big Blue had been partnering with VC-backed start-ups since early 2000, but establishing the Venture Capital Advisory Council makes the process more formal, he said.

IBM will regularly invite new VC partners to join the council who have a synergy in their investments corresponding to areas where IBM is growing its business and who are identifying key trends in emerging markets like Brazil, China, India and Russia, according to Clark. Particular areas of common interest are likely to be Linux, software as a service in terms of new usages and models, security, the life sciences and healthcare, he said.

The Venture Capital Advisory Council would meet four times a year, Clark said. The first meeting date had yet to be fixed, but will be some time later this year.

While the group would stress the importance of face-to-face and local meetings, it's possible the council might also make use of the Virtual Innovation Centers technology IBM announced to facilitate virtual meetings, he said. It was possible that over time IBM would consider opening up membership of the council to non-VCs, Clark said, with a likely focus on both Big Blue partners and customers.

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