Big data companies have been hailed as the greatest innovators as they claim top spot in IBM’s start-up competition.
Two big data specialist companies, SkyFoundry and StreetLightData, have been hailed as the greatest US innovators in their field, having won IBM’s SmartCamp Boston competition.
The global IT company, familiarly known as ‘Big Blue’, offers start-ups the opportunity to present themselves and also receive mentoring over the course of a two day competition, at the end of which the most promising companies are selected as the winners. The selected pair will go on to compete against the winners of the SmartCamp contests in Europe, Latin America and Asia to find a global winner.
SkyFoundry develops software which can be used to analyse and gain insight into large amounts of unstructured data, offering the potential to detect patterns, reveal system faults and identify opportunities for operational improvement. The company's SkySpark analytics platform, for example, enables users to better understand the state of their systems by analysing massive data sets from sensors and monitors, identifying opportunities for costs savings.
StreetLightData, meanwhile, performs analysis on transportation and behavioural data for retailers. The analysis can improve the decision making process for retailers on such things as the location for storefronts, inventory numbers and marketing campaigns.
The competition illustrated how big data is at the heart of the most innovative start-ups emerging; their agile use of the data that both they and third parties generate is making them among the most successful entrepreneurs in the start-up space. Many of the companies who compete in the SmartCamp contest go on to secure venture capitalist funding. Indeed, IBM states that the 2010 and 2011 finalists have gone on to raise more than $60 million in venture capital funding since their participation in its competition.
Jim Corgel, IBM’s general manager, said: “Innovation from the start-up community is critical to building a smarter planet. By helping talented entrepreneurs, like the ones participating at SmartCamp Boston, grow their business, we are providing our clients with innovative new solutions to some of society's most pressing challenges.”
Reflecting on the event, Michelle Purvis wrote on IBM’s blog: “Six different start-ups each gave six minute pitches to an audience of over 30 mentors. The enthusiasm of the companies was invigorating. It honestly was thrilling to be in the room where these presenters, in most cases original founders of their companies, expressed their desire to create smarter solutions to enact change in the cities we live in, the healthcare systems we use, and the environment that sustains us.”
The event, held in Boston, Massachusetts, was judged from leading figures in the technology industry, academia, venture capital and entrepreneurs, as well as senior IBM personnel.