Microsoft strengthens support for startups in India with two new initiatives

New Delhi : Committing to empower startups’ ambitions from idea to unicorn in the country, Microsoft India unveiled two new initiatives that will help entrepreneurs and their organizations innovate and grow. Curated for AI startups, Microsoft AI Innovate will be introducing its second cohort, and a hackathon for startups will provide resources and support to developers for creating digital solutions that empower business innovation, social entrepreneurship, and sustainability.

Microsoft AI Innovate Season Two: Aiming to nurture and scale startups in the country, Microsoft AI Innovate’s second season is inviting nominations from SaaS startups whose core applications or services are built using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Supported by SaaS Insider, the initiative is designed to help startups scale their operations, drive greater innovation, and build industry expertise. Across the 10 weeks of the program, startups get to partner closely with Microsoft’s engineering and product teams to build their core AI models. In addition, there are opportunities to work on relevant scenarios with Microsoft’s industry, research and engineering experts and receive mentorship, along with future-proofing entire teams by getting skilled on technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Selected startups receive OpenAI preview and credits, access to industry and technology deep-dive sessions and AI masterclasses by experts, mentoring by startup founders and renowned industry leaders, skilling and certification opportunities, among other benefits. Catering to both technical and business audiences, the program brings together tech know-how, global GTM partnerships and engineering expertise. The debut cohorts of 16 startups from fintech, manufacturing and logistics sectors graduated last month after weeks of immersive engagement with leaders, industry experts and subject matter specialists (see appendix for graduated startup details).

Code Titans Hackathon: Presented in association with Techgig, the hackathon for startups invites teams to turn their ideas into prototypes that are built on Microsoft Azure. Designed to solve challenges around business innovation, social entrepreneurship and sustainability, the solutions can leverage the best-in-class tools, languages and open-source frameworks that offer flexibility, collaboration, and security of the trusted cloud platform.

Participating in the hackathon provides startups an opportunity to learn from Azure masterclasses and hands-on training sessions on key technologies like Serverless, Kubernetes, Data Fundamentals, Java & .NET, Github and Azure AI & ML, among others. The top 100 shortlisted startups will receive US$300 worth of Azure credits as part of the hackathon to build their prototype on Azure. The top three teams will win cash prizes while the top 25 startups are eligible to join the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub program.

“The disruptive vision of startups is catalyzing our country’s innovation engine and we are excited to partner with every startup on this journey. With deepened focus on core AI startups in the second season of Microsoft AI Innovate, we are bringing the best of Microsoft’s AI capabilities in creating the magic with the power of data and AI. The hackathon provides an opportunity for some of the most innovative ideas to come to life on the trusted platform of Microsoft Azure. We are hopeful that both initiatives will help startups build securely and scale faster through the Microsoft ecosystem,” said Sangeeta Bavi, Director, Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India.

Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is a new digital and truly inclusive platform for startup founders, offering over US$300,000 worth of benefits and credits, giving startups free access to the technology, tools, and resources they need to build and run their business. Beyond access to technology, the platform empowers entrepreneurs to innovate and grow by connecting them with mentors who will provide them with industry, business, and technical support to guide them through their next business milestones.

Microsoft is also partnering with companies like OpenAI, a global leader in AI research and deployment, that develops AI systems such as GPT-3 and Codex to provide startups with exclusive benefits and discounts. Startups also have access to Microsoft Learn for tailored startup-centric training and a variety of startup and unicorn programs to help them build connections with customers or industry veterans and accelerate their growth.

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