ARMONK, N.Y., April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today marked the 50th anniversary of its Fellows program by elevating eight employees to IBM Fellow for their innovations in such strategic areas as cloud and mobile computing, big data and business analytics. The new Fellows will be visible in reinforcing IBM's commitment to technical eminence worldwide as they each "adopt" an IBM growth market, serving as technology ambassadors in key regions. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO ) The new IBM Fellows join an elite group of inventors whose efforts benefit from IBM's more than $6 billion annual investment in research and development as well as other initiatives that serve clients. Since 1963, only 246 IBMers have earned the IBM Fellow distinction, and 85 of them remain active IBM employees. IBM Fellows have generated nearly 7,500 patents, received five Nobel prizes, thousands of government and professional citations and have a massive store of published research in scientific journals. "As we have for half a century, IBM is today honoring its most outstanding technologists and their contributions to computing and society," said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Like all IBM Fellows, members of the class of 2013 are recognized leaders in the global technical community. In 2013, this leadership will be focused on IBM growth markets, where each of this year's fellows will serve as an ambassador and resource to a different country." As evidence of the transformational role that skills and technical expertise play in building a Smarter Planet, each of the new Fellows will serve as a technology ambassador to an important growth market for IBM. In this capacity, they will ensure IBM has an active and prominent technical presence in key countries, partnering with local universities and research institutions, mentoring employees and helping to sustain two-way visibility between IBM leadership and local markets. IBM views the IBM Fellow ambassador role as a model for each of its growth markets. A key goal will be to provide these markets with a preview of future technologies being developed across IBM. This will enable IBM clients and employees to influence those technologies while the Fellows themselves gain a greater understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in these markets. This new initiative follows other investments IBM is making in growth markets, including the company's first research lab on the African continent, in Nairobi, Kenya; and the Corporate Service Corps, a program in which IBM employees donate their time and expertise to solve problems for educational institutions, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies in growth markets. The new IBM Fellow ambassador initiative ties directly back to the roots of the IBM Fellows program and its intended goal of driving growth through innovation. When it was inaugurated in 1963, then IBM CEO Thomas Watson, Jr. envisioned a program that would be carried out in a "unique" way to give Fellows resources to probe deeper into their areas of specialization, break new ground in technology and open up new opportunities for IBM. "We want to recognize outstanding scientific, engineering, programming and systems people who have made a record over a long period of time for sustained achievement..." said Watson. "We want to ensure that their continued contribution to IBM's growth and stature will be assured by giving them greater freedom to be creative in their field of specialty or technical discipline."