Microsoft today announced the launch of the BizSpark Plus program to provide a fillip to the startup ecosystem in India. As part of this program, the company will offer USD 120,000 per year of free Azure Cloud services to each of the qualified startups. The startups can use USD 10,000 worth of credits monthly, to invest in Microsoft services to power their business. The program, in addition to open source friendly Azure, provides free software, developer tools, and technical support to help startups be successful.
Microsoft is partnering with 13 startup accelerators to roll out this program in the country. These include 91Springboard, Reliance GenNext, Zone Startups and Pitney Bowes among others. Globally, Microsoft is partnering with 150 startup accelerators in 47 countries to deploy this program. India, with its vibrant startup ecosystem, is a key country for Microsoft. In addition to Azure services, startups will receive the full suite of development and test software and tools such as Visual Studio, Windows and Office.
Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.
Speaking on the occasion, Rajinish Menon, Director, Microsoft Ventures India, said, “Startups need all the help they can to get access to the right tools, technology and guidance. At Microsoft, we are committed to supporting these startups and through the BizSpark Plus program we want to support India’s upcoming entrepreneurs and the government’s Digital India vision. We aim to help early stage companies accelerate innovation and deliver their product to customers as quickly as possible. Azure provides the productivity, security, analytics and scalability that startups need to quickly build and grow their businesses. We believe that Microsoft’s Azure Cloud is leading the way for startups and enterprises alike, with the most simple and complete cloud experience available.”
To qualify for the BizSpark Plus program, startups must be privately held; less than 5 years old; have a less than USD 1miilion revenue annually and be member of a select Accelerator or VC firm. In India, the program has limited seats for other startups as well.
According to Pranay Gupta, Partner, 91Springboard – “The BizSpark Plus programme is a unique opportunity for startups who want to leverage the power of the Cloud and give a boost to their product development lifecycle. We are excited to partner with Microsoft for this initiative and are confident that this will accelerate innovation and help the Indian startup ecosystem access class leading technologies and expertise that Microsoft Azure can provide.”
Over the last 25 years, Microsoft in India has been functioning as a key contributor towards a truly Digital India in the areas of education, digital economy, entrepreneurship, digital inclusion and cyber security, among others. Microsoft is a longstanding partner in India’s growth and remains committed to supporting the Government in realizing its vision for a Digital India. In the last 10 years, Microsoft’s education, skill development, entrepreneurship and digital literacy programs have touched over 5 crore people in 20 different states of India. Microsoft has invested over USD 100mn in not-for-profit programs such as YouthSpark, BizSpark, Imagine Cup and Partners in Learning in India in the last decade alone.
These initiatives are in line with Microsoft’s long-term commitment to contribute to a Digital India. Marking the Digital India Week, the company has initiated multiple activities to drive digital empowerment of the Indian youth and communities. Aimed at preparing ‘Skilled India’, Digital India Hackathons are being held across 17 campuses in India, targeting over 4000 students. Through this, students are encouraged to develop cloud & mobile applications centered on Digital India themes like Smart Governance, Smart City, as well as other applications in socially relevant areas like Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, World Citizenship and Women Safety. This series of hackathons are aimed at encouraging and inspiring youth to start thinking like challengers, learn to continuously adapt and work on ideas and solutions that address societal issues.
Similarly, Microsoft is reaching out to students and communities to make them digitally empowered through the Digital Literacy Sessions. Through this, students enrolled in the Center for Training will undergo a 3-month course on a complete Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum including Introduction to Computers, and Office and Productivity Tools. Community outreach is part of the Digital Literacy initiative where the centers are reaching out to other members of the community through various engagements such as ‘Each One Teach One’, where every student will be encouraged to bring one member of their family to the center and take them through an introductory course in Computers. These initiatives are in line with Microsoft’s firm belief in integrating technology’s benefits for inclusive growth and economic progress.