IBM Corp. is making its Watson supercomputer technology available as a cloud-based development platform to aid in the building of new applications with its cognitive computing capabilities.

IBM has been working on cloud-based Watson capabilities for some time. In early 2013, the company began offering the technology via the cloud to oncologists.

Now, the new IBM Watson Developers Cloud will be open to application makers of all sizes and industries, according to the company. Available tools will include a developer toolkit, educational materials and access to Watson’s application programming interface. Developers can use their own data sources or access third-party content, including the health reference library of Healthline, which the site will offer in the IBM Watson Content Store.

IBM also will make available more than 500 experts from within the company to assist in such areas as research, design and development, and developers can use the site to connect with freelancers with specific expertise.

In a statement, Michael Rhodin, senior vice president at IBM Software Solutions Group, said that making Watson widely available via the cloud is designed to “fuel a new ecosystem that accelerates innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Three business partners of IBM are developing early versions of new apps using Watson that are expected to enter the market in 2014. Fluid, which builds online shopping sites for retailers, is making an app to incorporate information that users share and questions that they ask to enable them to access a sales associate on demand. Health care supply chain vendor MD Buyline is developing a clinical/financial decision support app to aid in quality improvement initiatives. Social health management vendor Welltok is developing an app to create personalized itineraries sponsored by insurers, health care systems and health retailers that include tailored activities, relevant content and content management, and give rewards for healthy behaviors.

IBM further has a network of venture capital partners to help application developers get support to make and sell Watson-powered apps. More information on the cloud-based offering of Watson is available here.

Health care organizations that have worked with IBM to develop health-related capabilities for Watson include Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Nuance Communications, Columbia University Medical Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, WellPoint and Cleveland Clinic, which recently issued a progress report.

IBM also announced it will acquire Fiberlink Communications, which offers cloud-based mobile device management and services software. Terms of the deal, which expands IBM’s Bring Your Own Device management capabilities, were not disclosed.

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