Microsoft for Startups announced the launch of its initiative Highway to a Hundred Unicorns to mentor and support startups in tier-II cities of India.
Through this initiative, the startup wing of California-based technology giant Microsoft will engage with innovators and entrepreneurs through a series of outreach programmes, said an official statement from Microsoft.
Microsoft will work closely with the state governments to support the startup ecosystem in India.
The Highway to a Hundred Unicorns aims to address challenges in tier-II cities such as lack of cutting-edge technology and scaling businesses, the statement said.
More than 250 startups from across the country attended the first event organised under the Microsoft for Startups initiative. The event was held in collaboration with the Industries Commissionerate and the Industrial Extension Bureau (INDEXTb), a Gujarat government initiative to accelerate industrial development in the state.
Startups will be given access to technology workshops on machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, the statement added.
Top startups identified in the Emerge 10-Gujarat, a startup initiative by the state government, will receive Azure credits, the statement said.
Select startups will be invited to make their pitch for an opportunity to become part of the Microsoft ScaleUp programme. The Microsoft ScaleUp is a programme which aims to support seed or Series A-funded B2B (business-to-business) and select B2C (business-to-consumer) tech-enabled startups.
“Our tech expertise and experience of engaging with some of the most successful Indian startups will help innovators across the breadth of the country become enterprise-ready and scale their operations in India and globally,” said Lathika Pai, country head, Microsoft for Startups - Middle East and North Africa and SAARC.
By leveraging its technology platform, its startup programmes and its corporate venture capital fund M12, Microsoft aims to help startups grow and become market- and enterprise-ready, the statement said.
Recent initiatives by Microsoft in India
In August, Microsoft launched a centre under its research facility in Bengaluru to encourage projects that will have a substantial societal impact. As part of the programme, the Microsoft Research Lab will focus on projects by collaborating with startups, academia and NGOs.
In a bid to encourage the adoption of AI in India, Microsoft partnered with higher education institutions to provide training in the technology. The AI Digital Labs will run a three-year programme to address Indian enterprise challenges.
In June, advisory platform Ganymede Advisory Partners collaborated with Microsoft to support fintech startups in India.