IBM to startups: We’ll give you $120k to build your business in the cloud

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

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IBM has today announced the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups, which aims to help aspiring firms to the tune of $120,000 (£75,000) if they get a foot up on IBM’s cloud platform.

Those who get the funding will be able to access the entire set of jewels in IBM’s cloudy crown, including SoftLayer infrastructure, Aspera’s data transfer, Cloudant’s database as a service, and Twitter’s social analytics, after the firms’ partnership was announced earlier this month.

Big Blue is also offering face to face events, as well as CIO and entrepreneur meet-ups for successful startups.  With over four million developers and 143,000 companies in the IBM cloud ecosystem, IBM claims it has the widest range of cloud services out there.

The firm certainly feels as though it’s got the largest in terms of funding, trilling in its press literature the $120k is greater than Google ($100k), Microsoft Azure ($60k) and Amazon Web Services’ ($15k) offerings. This publication is reminded of Rackspace’s £250,000 pledge to startups back in November 2013, but that was the total amount of its cloud hosting, so IBM does have the edge, providing it gets more than three customers, anyway.

For the enterprise market in particular, the fresh blood startups provide can be a boon for larger companies looking for more streamlined solutions to age-old IT problems. Again, IBM facilitates this by offering connections with its in-depth enterprise customer base.

“The IBM Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups provides a comprehensive and strong network of resources to drive collaborative cloud innovation,” said Norwest Ventures’ Promod Haque. “By enabling access to IBM’s broad and fast-growing enterprise cloud portfolio and third party cloud services build around open APIs, startups can now more easily build and monetise their solutions.

“More importantly, by providing a global path to the enterprise, this program can help accelerate the rate at which cloud startups can get to market and scale,” he added.

It’s interesting to note how a venture capitalist is championing this kind of innovation. It’s clear the large vendors want to muscle into this space, however there may be room for both kinds of approach. Current cloudy startups receiving venture capital include software-defined storage firm SwiftStack with $16m, cloud-based platform Volometrix – $12m in series B – and OpenStack provider Mirantis, with a whopping $100m.

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