Microsoft’s corporate venture capital fund M12 has joined hands with global venture capital firm Mayfield and Melinda Gates's Pivotal Ventures for the second edition of the global Female Founders Competition.
The competition aims to accelerate funding for women entrepreneurs developing business-to-business (B2B), software-as-a-service (SaaS) and deep-tech solutions, it said in a statement.
Women-led startups developing enterprise tech solutions in the United States, Europe, Israel and India are eligible to apply and registrations have begun on October 17, 2019. Four winning startups will receive a total of $6 million in venture funding, along with access to technology, resources, mentoring and other benefits.
“Last year’s competition helped highlight that there are innovative female entrepreneurs developing enterprise tech solutions, and they just aren’t getting equal access to capital. The tech industry can’t afford to keep leaving women’s good ideas on the table,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president, business development, Microsoft Corp.
Companies will be eligible to apply if they have at least one female founder, have raised no more than $5 million in combined equity funding and/or debt loans upon the date of application, and offer or intend to release a product, service or platform addressing a critical business problem for a global market.
The competition will conclude with a live finals pitch competition on March 18-19, 2020, with the announcement of winners to follow shortly thereafter. Two enterprise software startups will earn investment awards of $2 million each, and two deep-tech startups will be provided with $1 million each.
The first edition of Female Founders Competition awarded a total of $4 million to two women entrepreneurs — Greta Cutulenco, chief executive officer and co-founder of Acerta; and Julie Dorsey, founder and chief scientist of Mental Canvas.
Microsoft for Startups had earlier 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.
Microsoft will work closely with the state governments to support the startup ecosystem in India.