It’s been a busy start to the second half of the SmartCamp year. The program has expanded rapidly from 9 cities last year to over 20 this year. We re-started after the summer on August 31st in Paris (who says Europe has too many holidays?) before moving to Sydney on the 6th Sept and Singapore on the 10th. Overall there have been many highlights, however I wanted to call out a few and give a flavor of the differences between the different locations.
We held our first ‘healthy breakfast’ to discuss an extension to the program for startups in the digital health space. This was the warm-up to the Smartcamp event. On Sept. 19th we will announce something we are calling healthXL to specifically support entrepreneurs in this space. We have assembled a group of world-class entrepreneurs, investors, and corporates who are excited about building a global network of experienced mentors to support startups in the health arena. We used the Paris Smartcamp event to test-run the idea with a number of investors and entrepreneurs.
As with previous events in Paris the team did an amazing job of finding the best mentors and companies from across the country. All of the companies had interesting solutions plus real customers and revenues. The overall winner was Captain Dash. Captain Dash focuses on providing new generation business analytics dashboard for enterprise, using Hadoop as the core technological engine. Aside from the significant market opportunity and beautiful design it was amazing to find a French entrepreneur–who has established more than 6 companies alongside the former head of Oglivy–attack the global market from day 1. CaptainDash–we wish them well.
Other highlights include the food and champagne reception (note: Paris is the only SmartCamp serving champagne)
Sydney was the host for Australia and New Zealand. We were again overwhelmed by the number of partners and the quality of the startups. This was really a community event. We had the largest number of ecosystem sponsors ever; usually we have 5 or so sponsors but we had over 17 in Sydney. I think this demonstrates the demand for events that promote Australian and New Zealand entrepreneurs on the international stage. There were 5 finalists including the winner CropLogic from New Zealand. CropLogic provides predictive decision support tools to crop growers and processors enabling growers to improve yield and sustainability of potatoes. Being Irish this is a subject close to my heart and the subject of many jokes from my Australian colleagues. The event production in the Westin was top-notch as was the feedback from the mentors. It really feels like this market has been overlooked because of geographic distance. The public event was oversubscribed and the hotel had to almost forcefully eject us.
The next morning we held our 2nd healthy breakfast with a number of leading digital health entrepreneurs and investors. It was interesting that although the health system there is very different than in France the challenges facing the entrepreneur are very similar. There was great passion in the room for developing a specific program in Australia and a long list of potential interested partners.
We finished the trip on Monday with our first event in Singapore. Singapore was the SmartCamp host for ASEAN with finalists from three countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The team also invited a total of 15 companies to experiment with a new group format. Again the diversity of the solutions was amazing. These ranged from a fish activity monitoring system to detect water quality to the winner HistoIndex Pte Ltd. who delivers an analytics platform for accurate diagnosis of fibrosis. The evening event was completely over-booked (not even standing room). When the crowd was asked how many had attended an IBM event previously the answer was less than 5%. The team is starting to create a new network which is fundamental for the development of a Smarter Planet.
Overall there was a great amount of buzz and energy which is hard to capture in words but gives us confidence that the local teams are starting to be sustainable ecosystems and bodes well for the future.
Post written by Martin Kelly, IBM Global VC Partner.