With the third-largest ecosystem for startups in the world, India held opportunities for emerging businesses to accelerate innovation across industries, said Microsoft on Wednesday.
To support the startup ecosystem in the country, the company has launched a programme, Microsoft AI Innovate, for nurturing and scaling startups that are leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Microsoft AI Innovate was aimed at bringing together startups, corporates, industry bodies, governments, and venture capital firms, to create a shared platform for learning and innovation, Microsoft said on Wednesday.
This 10-week-long initiative would support startups in India leveraging AI technologies, helping them scale operations, drive innovation, and build industry expertise.
Supported by TiE Mumbai, the launch cohort will kickstart in November 2021. The first cohort will focus on manufacturing and logistics and the second one will focus on fintech.
Both B2B and B2C startups from diverse industries, including financial services, healthcare, education, agriculture, space, manufacturing and logistics, retail, and e-commerce, would be invited to participate in the programme, as per the company.
Sangeeta Bavi, Director, Startup Ecosystem, Microsoft India, said, "Microsoft AI Innovate will create an engaging platform to empower startups with opportunities to build, scale and transform with agility.''
The programme would also enable startups to reach out to newer customers and geographies with Microsoft’s sales and partner networks.
Noting that India had the third largest AI startup ecosystem in the world, Microsoft India president Anant Maheshwari said, "AI adoption can add more than $90 billion to the Indian economy by 2035...to maximise AI's potential and mitigate its risks, we need to develop AI in a way that is responsible and fosters trust."
“AI has a tremendous potential to empower people and institutions to do better, understand customers more deeply, share information more quickly and enable scientific breakthroughs," Mr. Maheshwari said.
The selected startups in each of the cohorts will have access to industry deep-dive sessions and AI masterclasses by industry experts, mentoring by unicorn founders, skilling and certification opportunities, among other benefits.
Catering to technical and business audiences, the programme will bring together leading-edge tech know-how, global GTM (go to market) partnerships as well as engineering and research experts from Microsoft.
Qualified seed to series B startups will be provided with technical enablement benefits, including Azure benefits (in addition to free cloud credits) and product engineering support among other benefits. They will also receive support with business and sales acceleration needs such as marketplace onboarding.
Startups with enterprise-ready solutions will be provided opportunities to build their solutions alongside a dedicated team of professionals.
They will get go-to-market support as well as co-selling benefits with Microsoft's sales team and partner ecosystem. The startups will also get access to top partner and customer events to strengthen their networking reach.
(With inputs from PTI)