Microsoft is introducing a venture capital division that will provide funding, advice and computing and software services to startups, with a repeated mention of cloud and enterprise software capabilities.
To qualify for Microsoft Ventures, applying companies must have a full-time founding team, “bold vision for tackling a real problem,” technologically driven solutions and less than $1 million in their coffers. Microsoft said in part it will provide business mentors, technical and design experts, as well as development solutions and cloud resources. In addition, Microsoft is implementing a business accelerator program lasting three to six months. Funding is available after reaching a certain level of business success, of which Microsoft has a range of definitions, notably “alignment to Microsoft domain expertise, including enterprise software, big data, security, artificial intelligence, advertising, gaming, SaaS and cloud services,” according to the official Microsoft blog.
For Microsoft, the new program will in part help bring cohesion to existing funds and startup efforts, Microsoft said.
“By unifying our various efforts, we will give entrepreneurs a single point of entry to engage with Microsoft,” the company said. “Startups have enough to worry about. We want to make access to us as intuitive and friction-free as possible.”
Five global Microsoft-owned accelerators will be expanded with locations in Berlin, Moscow and Rio de Janeiro.
Microsoft has existing incubator programs, at least one of which will continue as part of the new effort. Since 2008, 75,000 startups from approximately 100 countries were backed with solutions and resources from Microsoft’s BizSpark. Microsoft stated it would continue to offer access to its tools and technology – pointing to Windows, Office and Azure in particular – through this program. Last year, Microsoft launched the Bing Fund for seed investments, and it also counts about 200 regional-specific partnerships with startups like Enterprise Ireland and Telefonica’s Wayra.
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