Tech giant Microsoft on Wednesday launched a new programme Microsoft AI Innovate for nurturing and scaling startups that are leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI). The 10-week initiative will support startups in India leveraging AI technologies, helping them scale operations, drive innovation, and build industry expertise. Both B2B and B2C startups from various industries, including financial services, healthcare, education, agriculture, space, manufacturing and logistics, retail, and e-commerce can participate in the quarterly cohorts of this programme.
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. "AI is increasingly transitioning from artificial intelligence into augmented intelligence that ensures efficient, faster, more targeted experiences for everybody. 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," Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari said at a virtual event. He added that India has the third-largest AI startup ecosystem in the world.
"AI adoption can add more than USD 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. As creators, users and advocates of technology, it is important for us to make careful choices so that technology ultimately translates into benefits and opportunities for all," Maheshwari said.
Trust is non-negotiable and everyone is accountable for creating a responsible, trusted and ethical tech ecosystem, he noted. Through its latest initiative, Microsoft will focus on providing tech and business opportunities to startups for improving their solutions, transforming organisations and building responsibly to make AI accessible to everyone, Maheshwari said. The programme will also enable startups to reach out to newer customers and geographies with Microsoft's sales and partner networks. 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.