IBM is hoping to bring a new crop of tech startups under its corporate wing with a program that gives them access to Big Blue's software and industry-specific development frameworks.
The Global Entrepreneur Initiative, which has echoes of Microsoft's BizSpark program, also grants participants access to IBM's research community and provides help with product development, sales and marketing efforts.
Products from IBM's Information Management, Lotus, Rational, Tivoli and WebSphere lines can be used on premises for "demonstration, evaluation, commercial application development, testing, and education purposes," according to a FAQ.
IBM is also partnering with Amazon Web Services and Novell, allowing participants to use the DB2 Express-C database and WebSphere sMash application-development toolset on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, but in this case they will be responsible for Amazon usage fees.
The industry development frameworks include areas such as "Smarter Water" and "Smarter Buildings."
Startups may remain in the program for as long as three years, after which they could continue in IBM's traditional PartnerWorld partner program.
Nineteen organizations from around the world will work on the project with IBM, including TiE Silicon Valley in the U.S., the National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs in the U.K., the Indian Angel Network in India and Israel's StartUpMania, according to a statement.
There are a number of rationales behind IBM's move, said Redmonk analyst Michael Coté.
"IBM is looking to encourage the whole 'Internet of Things' vision, which pragmatically means just getting software and networking enabled on as many devices in the world as possible. Think TVs, medical equipment, power meters, sewage control valves, et cetera, which extends IT, and thus IBM's market, into 'everything.'"
In addition, IBM has historically had a tougher time getting small and medium-sized companies "as fully engaged with its portfolio as enterprises are. If the success of BizSpark is an indication, this looks like a pretty good try," he added.
However, the real key is how IBM executes the program, according to Coté. "Sun had a startup program as well that had mixed reviews. Startups expect their vendors to move at startup speed with minimal paperwork and process. They want to get the kit and go -- much different than enterprises."