When IBM rolled out its artificial intelligence system, Watson, it also welcomed entrepreneurs to help it monetize the revolutionary technology. A key com­ponent to Watson is its cognitive capability--to learn as it goes along. Able to grind through millions of websites, documents, articles, and images in seconds, Watson can remember the research it gathers, as well as your response to it. So Watson becomes progressively more accurate--intelligent, if you will--as people use it. It can be everything from an über-helpful call-center rep to an oncology adviser, recommending cancer treatments on the basis of a patient's genetic profile and thousands of clinical trials and medical journal articles it has analyzed.

IBM created several business lines around Watson and a developer platform called the Eco­system. In Ecosystem, everyone is invited to play with Watson for free (for a limited time); some 77,000 developers have accepted. If your Watson-powered startup shows promise, it becomes a "partner," often via a quasi-incubator model, and enjoys access to IBM business and technology advisers--and a shot at a capital infusion from the $100 million IBM is making available to Watson startups, like those featured here.

Pathway Genomics

San Diego
 

Lifestyle Coach

Pathway's Ome app will learn your eating and exercise habits and act as dietary coach, personal trainer, and health adviser. Ask it, "How much do I need to run to lose five pounds?" and Ome figures it out, knowing your current calorie intake and reading your Fitbit or other training-bracelet streams.

LifeLearn

Guelph, Ontario
 

Doggy Doctor

A decision-making support tool and marketing platform for veterinarians, LifeLearn's cloud-based app, called Sofie, analyzes best practices around the world and provides continuing education on animal care.

Fluid

San Francisco
 

Expert Personal Shopper

Go online and ask outdoor products company North Face, "What's the best tent for upstate New York in October?" Fluid crunches weather data and hun- dreds of product reviews and user manuals to give you the best options. Sales employees also teach the system how to better interact with you.

SparkCognition

Austin
 

Infrastructure Guard

SparkCognition prevents attacks on things like electric grids and railroads by analyzing data from equipment sensors as well as external threat information. Security teams can avoid and solve problems, whether by flagging a railway car about to break down or restricting server access on the basis of the host country of an IP address.

Edge Up Sports

Kansas City, Missouri
 

Odds Beater

Whatever you know about football, Watson knows more. What's Peyton Manning's third-down-completion rate throwing into the wind in November? Watson will factor that in, so you can pick the optimal squad.

Purple Forge

Ottawa, Ontario
 

311 Operator

Cities such as Surrey, Canada, are using a mobile app to answer citizens' questions about government services. (When is recyclables pickup?) The Watsonized app can answer more than 10,000 questions, more efficiently and at lower cost than humans.

Go Moment

Santa Monica, California
 

Hotel Butler

Need a lift to the airport? Wi-Fi password? Restaurant recommendation? Go Moment's app, called Ivy, is on it or texts staff if, say, feet are required to deliver extra towels to your room. The sky's the limit on what a guest can ask for, and the service measures how long it takes a staff member to resolve a request when humans must get involved.

From the November 2015 issue of Inc. magazine