New IBM business unit to focus on green tech
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BOSTON -- Big Blue might be going a little green.
IBM Corp. plans to start a new business unit in its research division that will focus on environmental technologies. The as-yet-unnamed unit will get about $10 million in seed money to try to turn technologies developed in IBM's labs into products with environmental benefits.
Some such candidates already have gained some traction in IBM's labs, which is what encouraged company executives to formalize the endeavor and see if the company's technologists can come up with more. IBM would likely partner with other companies to bring some products to market.
Among the ideas the unit expects to explore: a networked system for efficiently managing a municipal water supply; methods of using nanotechnology to improve water desalination and filtration; and improved solar power cells.
"We kind of think that given how big the opportunity is here, it's almost a slam dunk for us," said Paul Horn, who directs IBM's nearly $6 billion-a-year research and development organization.
The green idea was one of 10 that emerged from IBM's recent "Innovation Jam," a massive online suggestion box in which employees were asked for ways the company could grow.
IBM chief Sam Palmisano has agreed to support all 10 with a total of $100 million, though the exact amount each will get has yet to be decided. Horn said leadership and other structural details for the environmental group will be sorted out by the end of the year, with a launch in 2007.
First Published November 20, 2006 12:00 am