Incubators to tempt IT chiefs

Guy Campos

IT managers with business-to-business e-commerce ideas are being offered money and business support by a top-flight...

Guy Campos

IT managers with business-to-business e-commerce ideas are being offered money and business support by a top-flight management consultancy.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers this week launched a $500m (£312m) incubator for high-growth start-ups, based initially in London and Paris, that can draw on all the firm's in-house resources and alliances.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers is to take a stake in the ideas funded, but company e-business leader Robin Tye said he expected to approve only "one in 100" plans put in front of him.

The incubator has already taken on its first client with an IT user background: Greg Swimer, a former national IT manager with consumer products company Unilever in Israel.

Swimer is working with PriceWaterhouseCoopers consultant Adam Jacobs to launch an e-procurement site dubbed

PriceWaterhouseCoopers claims some incubators can offer IT managers who defect from big companies little more than a desk and a phone. But Tye said two capabilities were extremely important in incubators for clients with an IT background.

"Firstly, they have got to understand the industry sector being targeted. This is even more important for business-to-business than business-to-consumer.

"Secondly, they should have international experience as there isn't such as thing as a business-to-business play in one country alone."

Tye said the consultancy could help find launch customers from among its huge client base.

But the company was not necessarily seeking to lure IT directors away from high-profile employers. It was also willing to take stakes in joint ventures launched in-house by IT managers. It had already taken stakes in Web designer Xceed and e-business companies Broadvision and i2.

The incubator is open to PriceWaterhouseCoopers' own staff. Tye said the intellectual capital provided by IT users during consultancy projects would be safe.

"We have hundreds of clients but will take on no more than 10 or 15 projects in our London incubator at any one time," he said.

Computer services company EDS has also raised £12m to launch an incubator company for Internet businesses. It is targeting e-commerce, business-to-business e-trading and wireless applications in Scandinavia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

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