Editorial note: This is a guest post by Ville Peltola the Innovation Director of IBM Finland. They are developing a lot of interesting things that startups and entrepreneurs should know. This post has not been paid for.

Not many people think about IBM and startups in the same sentence. We want to change this and that is why we launched the IBM Global Entrepreneur program earlier this year. IBM has also several internal startups operating inside IBM. We’ll explain this later in the post.

For the past two years IBM’s global agenda has been something called a Smarter Planet. In short it is about making the infrastructure around us smarter, like for example energy and water grids, transportation and buildings. We talk about instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, aka the “three i’s”, as forces shaping not just the technology world, but also the world around us every day.

Smarter planet agenda sounds ambitious and it is. That agenda is something IBM nor any other company can do alone and that is why we are also turning to startups and entrepreneurs. If your company is working on a solution that address issues enterprise customers are facing in the areas of banking, buildings, cities, cloud computing, education, energy, food, government, healthcare, infrastructure, intelligence, oil, products, public safety, rail, retail, telecommunications, traffic, water and work then we would like to hear more about you!

Our website has details about the program and how to apply. Qualified companies can get all sorts of benefits, like free access to IBM software, industry experts and promotion support via IBM’s global network of Solution Centers, Research Labs and special SmartCamp events. Think of it like adding more people to your business and extending the size and reach of your company!

SmartCamp events are an important part of the Global Entrepreneur program. They are typically two day events where select startups are invited as well as VCs and industry experts both from IBM and external companies. SmartCamps are basically a mix of pitching event, networking and competition. Finally at the end of the year, the winners of each SmartCamp events compete against each other. This year’s SmartCamp winner was just recently announced and it is a company called Streetline which uses sensors that allow citizens to find inexpensive parking fast while helping cities manage their parking resources more efficiently.

I hope this sounds interesting and I urge you to visit our program webpages and learn more. Lets build a smarter planet together!

Finally, we promised to tell why IBM has internal startups. They are called Emerging Business Opportunities (EBO) and they are a method among many how IBM innovates. As all the readers of ArcticStartup know, small startup companies are agile, fast and they can take risks and also fail. These are all essential ingredients of innovation and IBM uses EBOs for exactly this purpose. EBOs are essentially like startup companies – a small team of bright people with some funding and a mission to build a new business from something new.

Image by Michigan Municipal League