Microsoft launches Microsoft Ventures Accelerator for tech startups

Microsoft is offering technology startups in the B2B, consumer and gaming sectors the chance to apply for its accelerator programme in London.

Microsoft is offering technology startups in the B2B, consumer and gaming sectors the chance  to apply for its accelerator programme in London.

The chosen entrepeneurs will take part in a 12-week programme to help grow their businesses through mentorship, access to resources and technical assistance.

The accelerator is looking for 10-15 startups developing technologies in financial services, electronic retail and commerce, gaming, big data or enterprise software.

A common theme between all the startups will be the cloud. Anand Krishnan, general manager, developer and platform group at Microsoft said that the cloud has change the dynamic and economics of startups in recent years.

“Startups have the ability to disrupt the market and to innovate much clearer thanks to cloud,” he said.

Microsoft will not be taking an equity in the companies, but will maintain relationships with startups through an alumni programme after they “graduate” the accelerator.

During its pilot the accelerator will be based at Central Working in Shoreditch and the startups will be mentored by businesses such as London Business School, Barclays, KPMG, Jenson Solutions, Ventures in Motion  and Penningtons Solicitors; as well as gaming experts: Train2Game, Lift London and Lionhead Studios

This is the latest in a string of incubators and accelerators that have launched in London in recent months. The startup community, which tends to be based in Tech City, an area in the east of the city near Shoreditch has flourished since 2010 when the government announced its intention to help the development of small companies.

But startups are suffering due to a severe skills shortage. The companies are struggling to find talented developers in the UK to work with which is preventing business growth.

Krishnan said that the developer shortage can be blamed on the increase in B2C companies that have ventured into the software business taking the talent with them.

Microsoft actively tries to solve these problems by running roundtables and workshops to introduce developers to new Microsoft technologies.  

“Most of the folks coming in are not veterans in the industry,” he said. “Most dabble and are looking at how to get an app up and running.”

Krishnan calls these dabblers “application builders” and said that despite the skills shortage he has never felt a shortage of energy in the developer ecosystem. "There's still plenty of buzz and excitement around it," he said. 


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