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SP John Kelly

John Kelly, Senior Vice President, IBM

By Dr. John Kelly III

World leaders from business, government and the non-profit sector are gathering this week in Nairobi, Kenya, for Global Entrepreneur Summit 2015, the first such summit to be held in sub-Saharan Africa. So it’s a good time to explore the potential for Africa and Africans to take advantage of the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to propel the continent forward.

IBM is committed to helping Africa fulfill it’s promise by providing information technologies to help address the continent’s challenges, through research collaborations with companies and universities, and by helping to foster innovation ecosystems in a number of cities. Continue Reading »

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February 10th, 2015

SoftBank's Watson-based robot

SoftBank’s Watson-based robot.

By Michael Karasick

When IBM Watson was first created, it was designed to use English and to answer “factoid” questions. Since then, as we expand Watson’s capabilities to transform industries and professions, we are adapting it for other languages and forging strategic alliances to accelerate adoption globally.

Our alliance with Japan’s SoftBank, announced today, is a powerful example of both of those imperatives at work.

SoftBank, one of the most innovative companies in Japan, has signed on as our strategic partner to help introduce Watson and cognitive computing to the world’s third-largest economy. We’re working with SoftBank to train Watson to “think in” Japanese, and SoftBank will build a powerful ecosystem of partners, including entrepreneurs, app developers and venture investors; as well as take its own Watson-based applications and services to market. Continue Reading »

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November 12th, 2014

SP Cog Coll 2014One of the most intriguing elements of the new era of cognitive computing is the development of brain-inspired technologies. Those are technologies that mimic the functioning of the neurons, axons and synapses in the mammal brain with the goal of interpreting the physical world and processing sensory data: sight, sound, touch and smell. Today’s IBM Research Cognitive Systems Colloquium at IBM Research – Almaden is focusing on this realm of the cognitive computing world. Please come back for frequent reports and updates, and join the conversation at #cognitivecomputing. Continue Reading »

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The Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Photo credit: Haroldo Palo Jr.

The Brazilian Amazon rainforest. (Photo: Haroldo Palo Jr.)

By Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

With its warm, wet climate and vast expanse of 2.7 million square miles of land, the Amazon River basin has the potential to become one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions—essential for feeding a global population that’s fast-approaching eight billion.

Yet, at the same time, the Amazon rainforest is an invaluable—and imperiled–natural resource. According to The Nature Conservancy, no other place is more critical to human survival. The basin, which is about the size of the United States and touches eight countries, harbors one-third of the planet’s biodiversity, produces one-fourth of the fresh water and plays a key role in warding off the worst effects of climate change. Continue Reading »

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Xiaowei Shen, Dir., IBM Research China

Xiaowei Shen, Dir., IBM Research China

By Xiaowei Shen

China’s economic development story is truly incredible. With an average GDP growth of 10% over the past 30 years, China has emerged as the world’s second-largest economy and largest manufacturer.

But as a nation we realize that for China to sustain rapid growth some things have to change. One of the most central and widely discussed issues is ensuring growth while protecting the environment and the health of our citizens. We understand that our success should not come at the cost of future generations. Continue Reading »

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SP africaphoto_winner

‘Digital Migration” – Winner of IBM’s The World is Our Lab – Africa photo competition.
(Photo: Lawrence Mwangi, Nairobi)

What happens when you ask an entire continent to illustrate its challenges and opportunities in photos?

That’s exactly what IBM’s newest research lab wanted to find out. IBM Research – Africa, which opened its doors last November, was created with an ambitious mission: to conduct applied and far-reaching exploratory research into the grand challenges of the African continent by delivering commercially-viable innovations that impact people’s lives. Though it opened with clear objectives and an understanding of many of the infrastructural concerns across the continent, the Lab wanted a more personal understanding of the challenges.

“We quickly realized that if we were to make a difference in Africa, we needed to operate outside of the walls of the lab,” said Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Director, IBM Research – Africa. “While we benefit from 25 PHDs from some of the world’s best universities, it is crucial that we enter a dialogue with the people who best understand their own realities.” Continue Reading »

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Harry van Dorenmalen, Chairman, IBM Europe

Harry van Dorenmalen, Chairman, IBM Europe

By Harry van Dorenmalen

Societies across the world are reaping huge benefits from the new natural resource that is data. But at the same time that people are experiencing improvements in public safety, health care, flood protection, weather prediction, transport planning or water resource management, politicians around the globe are grappling with how to legislate data.

Here in Europe, the European Commission’s DG Connect has been instrumental in promoting an innovative Digital Economy. SP oddment red fladHowever, rhetoric that is currently emanating from parts of Europe reminds me of this: that in mid-19th century Britain, laws forbade the use of self-propelled vehicles without a person walking in front, waving a red flag to warn pedestrians of a vehicle’s approach and to slow its speed. This dramatic measure hindered early automotive adoption. Continue Reading »

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Wendy Lung, Director, Corporate Strategy, IBM Venture Capital Group

Wendy Lung, Director, Corporate Strategy, IBM Venture Capital Group

By Wendy Lung

If you ask people what they see as challenges in the venture capital environment in Africa, you will hear a few common themes:  the lack of seed and early stage capital, the need for mentoring and knowledge transfer, the need for greater global networking, and the lack of exit opportunities.

While these genuine challenges exist, there is much to be excited about in the growth of venture in Africa and how VCs are addressing these challenges.

I had the chance to catch up with Mbwana Alliy when he was visiting San Francisco last month. Mbwana is the Managing Director of Savannah Fund, a seed capital fund specializing in early stage high growth technology startups in sub-Saharan Africa. Based in Nairobi, Savannah Fund has a unique model of combining venture capital with mentor networks both in the region and from Silicon Valley via an accelerator program. Continue Reading »

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January 17th, 2014

Erich Clementi, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Technology Services

Erich Clementi,
Senior Vice President,
IBM Global Technology Services

By Erich Clementi

When Thomas J. Watson Sr. renamed a small New York manufacturing firm International Business Machines in 1924, it was both a reflection of his outsized ambitions and a projection of his belief that business would go global in the 20th century. He was right on both counts. Since then, IBM has led the way in enabling companies to become multinational organizations even while it has emerged as a globally integrated enterprise–with more than 430,000 employees doing business in 170 countries.

Today, IBM is taking steps to lead yet another wave of change in business and technology—one that promises to transform organizations, business models and the way work is done. We’re taking cloud computing global. Continue Reading »

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By Steve Hamm

Charity Wayua, IBM Research - Africa

Charity Wayua, IBM Research – Africa

Charity Wayua grew up in rural Kenya and did not use a computer till she was 17. Through hard work, Charity excelled academically and landed a scholarship from the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, which provides support for disadvantaged African women pursuing university educations. She got her undergraduate degree from Xavier University and a PhD in chemistry from Purdue University, both in the United States. Now she’s back in Africa—a fresh hire at the newly opened IBM Research lab in Nairobi.

She always planned on returning home after completing her studies. “I wanted to come back to be part of creating solutions for the continent, doing work that would make a difference for people here,” she says. Continue Reading »

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