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IBM Global Entrepreneur: The Creation of a Smarter Planet Written by Magdalena Räth on 7. November 2011


Considering global problems such as climate change, resource scarcity and the financial crisis, the world is in urgent need to find smart solutions. With the Global Entrepreneur initiative, IBM ( supports ideas complying with its aim of creating a smarter, greener and more efficient planet by lending start-ups software, know-how and contacts. VentureVillage introduces the IBM Global Entrepreneur initiative more closely and talks with IBM manager Daren Hanson about software, business and education.

IBM Global Entrepreneur programme - Interviewing IBM's Daren Hanson
IBM Global Entrepreneur and the Smarter Planet agenda

Leaders in business, government and civil society around the world have the opportunity to capture the potential of smarter systems to achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development and societal progress. 2008, with this principle in mind, IBM launched an initiative called “Smarter Planet“, promoting ways to make the world more intelligent, more environmentally friendly and more efficient by means of information technology.

Since 2010, IBM’s Global Entrepreneur programme has been providing start-ups pursuing the Smarter Planet vision with software, advice and contacts. Start-ups from the USA, the UK and Ireland, France, Israel, Switzerland and India were the first to present their intelligent, software-based services or products to IBM. German start-ups have been able to follow from the beginning of this year.

Selected businesses receive free access not only to IBM ressources such as software licenses, consulting and trainings, plus support with sales and marketing issues, but also to a global network of decision makers belonging to the world of economy, politics and science. A project resource manager will offer support for a one-to-one guidance through all stages of the entrepreneurs’ project development.

SmartCamps invite selected start-ups to network

Applying startups must be privately held, must be in business for less than five years and actively engaged in developing a software-based product or service. IBM looks for young businesses belonging to industries as diverse as the banking sector, manufacturing, commerce, energy, mobility, health care or administration. Start-ups can participate in the initiative for up to three years or until the startup no longer meets the eligibility requirements.

Selected entrepreneurs get the opportunity to furthermore qualify for participating in so-called SmartCamps where, in various workshops and talks, they may exchange thoughts with VCs, CEOs, local investors and other start-ups. At the end of the worldwide SmartCamps, the “Global Entrepreneur of the Year” will be elected. 2010-winner Streetline ( outdid the 600 contestants with a software solution for finding parking space in cities. The same-named application allows drivers to save time and fuel and enables towns to have their parking facilities used more efficiently.

Daren Hanson: “IBM has been good to me”

Daren Hanson is one of the mentors of the IBM Global Entrepreneur programme. Working at IBM for 22 years, this computer scientist knows the company by heart. Since 1989, he has been employed in the departments of sales, business development and marketing – to only mention a few areas. Today, Daren Hanson is responsible for ISV and Developer Relations in the area of Northeast Europe.

During the 2011 HPV Forum in Potsdam, Germany, VentureVillage’s chief editor Joel Kaczmarek was given the chance to interview the IBM manager. Daren Hanson talked not only about ways of keeping pace with start-up companies, about Europe’s engineering talent and the practical relevance of university teaching in terms of entrepreneurship, but also allowed us to mentally partake in his usual working life. Enjoy!