IBM continued its pattern of worldwide support for open standards this week with the announcement that it would collaborate with the Israeli government in providing funding and technical assistance to startup technology vendors developing Linux and Java applications.
The startups will be eligible for funding from the Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor, and technical assistance from IBM as they develop products operating around standard technologies said Mark Hanny, vice president of independent software vendor alliances and partner programs for IBM.
The IBM strategy in Israel is similar to what the software giant has implemented in other developing markets, such as Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and China. IBM already has established several of its "innovation centers" in these markets, as well as in the Israeli capital, Tel Aviv.
"We look at Israel as one of the most innovative places in the world," Hanny says. "We're putting up millions of dollars in free access to our leading technology and brightest people to help port and enable their products and applications."
Indeed, research from IDC places Israel amongst the top IT centers worldwide, with the tiny Middle Eastern nation spending a projected $3.5 billion in 2005 on IT. By 2008, that number is expected to rise to $4 billion.
In 2004, the Israeli venture market developed favorably, according to data from the Israel Venture Capital Research Center. During that year, 428 high tech companies raised $1.46 billion from local and foreign investors, resulting in a 45% increase over what was raised in 2003.
Hanny said that in a technologically rich state such as Israel, as well as in developing nations like China and Brazil, there has been tremendous acceptance of open standards technologies like Java and Linux, something that he has not yet seen in American markets.
"One thing that hits me [when comparing the two] is how many of these countries and their governments have embraced these technologies, and how aggressively they pursue them," Hanny said.
Hanny said the Israeli government has shown its desire to embrace open standards technology through the creation of policies that support technical R&D, including the creation of a Chief Scientist Office within the Ministry of Trade to support R&D performed by industrial firms.
"We're amazed how broad the acceptance has been; we can t keep demand with demand," Hanny said.
Hanny added that governments in Israel, Brazil and China are more open to Linux and Java because they haven't necessarily been tied down to a proprietary technology like many American firms.