Hewlett-Packard (HP) has set up a centralised, 100 person Eservices.solution organisation to finance Internet start-ups in the US, UK, France, Germany.
The unit will provide the companies with up to $1 million worth of hardware, software, support services and training in a bid to boost HP's push into the ebusiness arena.
Patrick Rogers, worldwide marketing manager for HP's 9000 business critical computing unit, said: "We plan to establish a strong position with the 'dot com' developing companies, pre mezzanine financing and pre initial public offering (IPO)."
Valerie Taglio, marketing manager for HP's Enterprise Finance Division, added that, while the company already partners with 50 organisations that offer eservices, this latest initiative was intended to be broader in scope.
"We expect that we'll get more than a thousand applications," she said, adding that the company was also working with venture capital firms to identify suitable candidates.
The aim of Eservices.solution is to make it easier for Internet start-ups to obtain financing. For example, using the HP scheme, they would not have to make a down payment and could defer the initial loan installment for as long as six months.
Although HP has not placed a ceiling on the total amount of money it will make available through its programme, the products available to participants are currently limited to its low end 9000 L-Class servers running Oracle's 8i enterprise database, Application Server, development and management tools, and its own Web deployment software.
This includes the firm's espeak middleware, which enables Web sites to exchange information more efficiently, and its WebQoS tool for improving the performance of Web server software. It intends the scheme to cover other HP and third party products over time, however.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, said: "It's a good approach by HP. It can use its cash - where Sun is not as well equipped, maybe, as HP is - to gain a foothold in that market. Dot.coms that are pre-IPO benefit by not having to spend their resources on building infrastructure."
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