IBM Unleashes IT Challenge on Australia for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2008

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Sydney - 06 Nov 2008: IBM Australia invites young entrepreneurs, students and small businesses around the country to enter a worldwide challenge, The IBM Virtual Worlds Challenge, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 17-23, 2008). The IBM challenge calls for new ideas on how businesses in the real world could interact with virtual spaces and 3D environments. Finalists will be selected to present their business plan to a panel of Venture Capitalists in Spring 2009.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a worldwide initiative launched by UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown and supported by the Kaufman Foundation and Make Your Mark, designed to inspire the next generation of young people to consider embarking on entrepreneurship programmes in their local communities. IBM is a global sponsor of Global Entrepreneurship Week and is working with co-sponsor Ernst & Young, as well as local host Social Alchemy and the Department of State and Regional Development. One of the highlight events of the week is a dawn video conversation with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday 18 November, involving young entrepreneurs and partners from around the world.

The NSW Department of State and Regional Development is supporting Global Entrepreneurship Week by holding several events around Sydney, including the ‘Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit’ event, featuring keynote speaker Lars Rasmussan, creator of Google Maps. The Department regards Global Entrepreneurship Week as a template for success for future generations of entrepreneurs.

Key Points:

  • Global Entrepreneurship Week: During the week of November 17 - 23, 2008, partner organisations will conduct a range of activities - from simple speeches to comprehensive competitions - designed to inspire, connect, inform, mentor and engage the next generation of entrepreneurs. Host organisations in each participating country are recruiting partners and coordinating related activities, such as: invention competitions, entrepreneurship film festivals, networking events, school-based activities, and local entrepreneurship summits.
  • ‘Unleash It’ is a website of challenges for innovative young thinkers, with a variety of incentives in store for winning solutions. Visitors are encouraged to visit the site to search challenges, read solutions, or post solutions of their own.
  • The IBM Virtual Worlds Challenge: IBM calls for Australians to take the IBM challenge, an initiative for young people to create IBM aims to engage young enterprising minds with challenges that businesses will inevitably face in the near future. Questions to be posed include “how do we connect to a virtual space with a real place?” and “How can we flow seamlessly in and out of virtual worlds?” Participants in the IBM Challenge are invited to submit an elevator pitch of their business idea by November 12. Twenty semifinalists will be announced on November 22.  Up to five selected winners will then have the opportunity to present a full business plan to a panel of Venture Capitalists during Spring, 2009.


  • Glen Boreham, CEO, IBM, said: “IBM is sponsoring Global Entrepreneurship Week because we believe young entrepreneurs and small businesses are the engines of job creation for local communities and regions in Australia and around the world, which makes them the most important protagonists in the unfolding story of global integration. The IBM Virtual Worlds Challenge is particularly relevant for young Australians, who are significant contributors to the culture of creativity and innovation that underpins online and virtual world communities.”
  • Ian Birks, CEO, AIIA, said: “AIIA fully supports Global Entrepreneurship Week and IBM’s Virtual Worlds Challenge. We hope young Australians around the country embrace the events, challenges and networking opportunities taking place in November and that it sparks some new ideas and different ways of thinking.”
  • Matt Jones, Executive Director, Social Alchemy, said: Global Entrepreneurship Week presents a unique opportunity of a truly global conversation about how entrepreneurial ideas can impact the lives of many. Entrepreneurs bring optimism and creativity, which inspires confidence in difficult economic times. We need fresh concepts and inspiration if we are to work our way to a brighter future.

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About Global Entrepreneurship Week:
Global Entrepreneurship Week is the result of the combination of two hugely successful initiatives, EntrepreneurshipWeek USA in 2007 and the inspiration behind it, Enterprise Week in the UK which was kicked off in 2004 by now Prime Minister Gordon Brown. During the last year, these two efforts - led by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in the US and the Make Your Mark campaign in the UK - combined to engage 2,720 partner organizations planning 6,891 activities that directly involved 929,449 individuals. With IBM as a key sponsor, this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week is set to kickstart the biggest launch pad of innovative and creative ideas generated by young people yet.

Media Contact:
Le Tran, Text 100   (02) 9956-5733

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