IBM, this week, said it was expanding its Global Technology Unit program, a project that is unique to Israel and is meant to find suitable Israeli start-up companies and helping them get a jump in the super competitive hi-tech business world. "We are very pleased with the GTU program. Israel is the best place to find new innovative technologies and since the program's initiation five years ago we have examined over 1,000 companies and are now assisting 120 companies," Cristopher Wong, who is in charge of the program at IBM's headquarters in the US, told The Jerusalem Post. Wong said IBM was very pleased with the program because these new companies use IBM platforms and IBM is also able to use their technologies in their integration work. "The GTU Program is not philanthropy. It is a business venture out of which IBM is not only opening doors to these young companies but also getting a lot of benefits out of it." Wong, who is VP Marketing Strategy IBM Developer Relations, was one of three senior IBM officers who attended Monday's GTU event at the Old Jaffa Lawrence Gallery. Deborah Magid, Director Strategic Alliances IBM Venture Capital Group, and Gina Poole VP Innovation and University Relations, were also there, as were a large number of executives from local venture capital companies that have close ties with the GTU program. "There is no doubt that the IBM management is pleased with our activities - our organization is growing constantly and IBM is very generous with their funding. We now employ over 50 people, 40 of which are in Israel where they find suitable companies and assess their importance to IBM," said Yoel Nahari, GTU manager in Israel. "We have 10 additional employees in Europe and the US who help find suitable contacts and marketing outlets for these companies. In the coming year, we will have two more such employees located in the Asia-Pacific area." The VC firms, meanwhile, applauded IBM's efforts, saying their cooperation with the GTU program had been very fruitful. "One of most successful investments, Main Soft is part of the GTU program and they received extensive help from IBM to market their products and establish themselves in the US," Yossi Vinitski, executive vice president of the Challenge VC fund told the Post. Edy Shalev, founder and managing partner of Genesis Partners VC fund, noted that three of their portfolio companies FundTech, Click Software and LightSand were part of the GTU program, but stressed that it was not a one-way street. "IBM is indeed helping the local hi-tech industry but the local hi-tech industry has also been of service to IBM."