Microsoft revamps its startup accelerator programme

Microsoft has revamped its accelerator programme and rebranded it as ‘Microsoft ScaleUp’. The programme which will only focus on B2B startups, will support late-stage enterprise startups that have already raised series A funding and have customers. The Redmond, Washington-based firm company had unveiled an accelerator programme six years ago in Bengaluru which supported early stage ventures.

The key aspect of the Microsoft ScaleUP programme will be the co-sell initiative, where startups will be part of the company’s sales team, ensuring a wider reach within a particular geography, or even the opportunity to go global.

The 30 B2B startups to be selected will be from the regions of SAARC, Middle East and North Africa, though the expectation is that majority of them would be from India. The key focus segments would be artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, machine learning, fintech, IoT, blockchain, healthcare and skill development.

Microsoft, which competes with companies like Google and Amazon in the artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing space, has been wooing a lot of AI-led enterprise startups for its accelerator programme. The company provides these firms with access to its cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure, to build innovations on top of it and scale their products and serve enterprise clients.

“It is about Azure…today we have Flipkart, InMobi, Ola, all on Azure. We want to catch [enterprise companies early], help them through their journey before they become unicorns,” said Ms. Pai of Microsoft.

For instance, WittyParrot which is cloud-based knowledge automation, collaboration and communication platform was part of Microsoft’s accelerator programme. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance company is using an automated video interviewing solution from Microsoft partner and start-up Talview to hire from the untapped talent pool from multiple cities across the country.

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