Microsoft Targets European Cloud Startups

In a bid to expand its presence in Europe, Microsoft has embarked on a strategy to reach out to European software companies.

As a first step, Microsoft has created a program called “Microsoft for Startups” accelerator and this program will be based out of Berlin. Under this program, Microsoft plans to have a four-month program for startup software companies in Europe, and at the end of this program, $500,000 worth of Azure credits will be given to the best performers. Besides Azure credits, these chosen companies will also get access to outside investors, technical advisers, and inputs from the Microsoft sales team.

From a startup’s perspective, this can be a great opportunity to expand and learn under the proper guidance of an established tech company, while for Microsoft, it is a great strategy to expand its presence and customer base within the European Union. The idea is to catch these companies young and get them hooked on Azure, so when they grow, the use of Azure will also increase. Also, Microsoft believes with such a strategy, it can capitalize on the success of these startups in the future.

That said, Microsoft has laid down certain conditions on which companies can qualify for this course. First off, these companies should be headquartered within the EU and a substantial part of their operations should be geared for the European market. These startups should operate only in the areas of connected factories, connected vehicles, AI, blockchain databases and computer vision.

In addition, these companies should have raised early stage funding and should have at least a functioning prototype of their product. In other words, this program is not for startups, but for those companies that have reached a certain stage of operations and want a boost or accelerator to take their company forward.

By tapping into the startups, Microsoft wants to establish itself as the leader in Europe. But that’s not going to be easy, as similar programs have been rolled by its competitors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google. In fact, Amazon’s AWS Activate Portfolio and Portfolio Plus packages reach out to startups that are in the acceleration and incubating stage and offer them anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 in AWS credit, along with technical help. Likewise, Alphabet’s Google Cloud Platform for Startup Program gives credits to use the Google Cloud Platform, besides technical and marketing help.

Both these programs from AWS and Google are available for European startups too.

In the light of this situation, how does Microsoft plan to achieve its goals? Well, for starters, it’s offering way more than what other cloud companies offer in terms of credit worth. This alone should be a deciding factor. Secondly, it’s ensuring that the money is used only for the brightest of prospects that have the highest chances of success, so this way Microsoft is associating itself only with the best startups.

Maybe both these aspects can give it a lead, but it’s definitely hard to say at this point in time.

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