Microsoft launches AI startup acceleration programme in India

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Microsoft has launched a programme to nurture and scale AI startups in India, prioritising enterprise tech startups that can best serve its customer base and benefit the most from the programme.

Microsoft AI Innovate is a 10-week programme that will support startups in the country working with AI technologies, to help them scale operations, drive innovation, and build industry expertise.

B2B and B2C startups are invited to participate in quarterly cohorts of the programme, with the first set to kick off in November 2021. 8 November is the deadline for applications.

Microsoft said it would prioritise enterprise technology startups that can best serve its customer base and benefit most from the programme.

The programme will be made up of two cohorts of up to eight participants. Startups will have to offer an innovative solution that supports customers in their digital transformation, be less than seven years old, have under $25 million in total revenue, and be in seed, series A, B, or C stage.

The tech giant is aiming to provide tech and business opportunities to the chosen startups to help them improve their products, transform their organisations, and build responsibility to make AI accessible to all.


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It will also help them reach out to new customers and geographies through the company’s sales and partner networks. Startups will have access to industry deep-dive sessions and AI masterclasses from industry experts, mentoring from unicorn founders, and skilling and certification opportunities.

All startups will get Azure benefits, product engineering support, and business and sales support too. Co-sell startups will be able to build their products alongside a dedicated team of professionals and get co-selling benefits with Microsoft’s sales and team and partner ecosystem.

“Microsoft’s vision is to help every startup across industries turn meaningful innovation into actionable results,” said Sangeeta Bavi, director of Startup Ecosystem at Microsoft India.

“Microsoft AI Innovate will create an engaging platform to empower startups with opportunities to build, scale and transform with agility. We are committed to ensuring that every startup gets expert guidance and best-in-class tech resources for strengthening their approach to the responsible use of AI.”

Microsoft has already launched a number of programmes in India, most recently launching a free collaborative digital skills training initiative at the start of October. The company wanted to provide 10 million jobseekers access to its Global Skills Initiative, to help with computing and computer science training, low-cost certifications, and free job-seeking tools.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.