Microsoft for Startups Ecosystem Update – June 2019
June has wrapped which means summer is in full swing. The team has pulled together highlights of some of the top news, startup stories and events they have encountered over the past month. From diagnosing the state-of-affairs for female founders to exploring the merits of the startup ecosystem in Beijing, this month’s edition covers a range of topics. Let’s dig in.
Watch how pioneering quantum computing startup 1Qbit is pushing the boundaries of materials and chemistry innovation. View the video here.
Eagle Genomics is bringing AI to genomics and microbiome to prepare biology R&D for data-driven era. Watch their story here.
Microsoft for Startups own Emily Rich sat down with Phil Thomson, cofounder of Auror, to hear his founder story first-hand. Auror is a retail crime intelligence platform that helps retailers stop crime in their stores. We’re on a mission to provide retailers and police with the best way to report, solve, and prevent crime, and keep communities safe. You can read the blog post here.
In this Q&A, Leslie Feinzaig CEO of the Female Founders Alliance, explains that what female founders need most are dollars and deals not talking points and advice.
“One thing I have learned is that, as a founder, advice doesn’t really get you anywhere. What’s lacking, still, are deals, dollars, actual investments. That’s why our community is focused on the active introduction that hopefully leads to the deal itself.”
James Chou, Managing Director of Microsoft for Startups China, spoke to The Fintech Times about Microsoft’s role in supporting Chinese startups. In this interview, he explores how Shanghai has arrived as a global innovation hub where multinationals increasingly connect with emerging startups.
Additionally, James outlined how Shanghai is uniquely positioned to drive innovation: “China has become the most innovative and dynamic market in the world today. First Shanghai is the regional headquarters of many MNCs and a financial center of China. Those companies all go through digital transformations and are willing to work with startups for open innovation. This trend creates many good use cases for startup innovation. Second, the Shanghai government is very supportive. They have created many programs to support innovation and entrepreneurship such as providing special policies to startups and building good tech ecosystems to encourage innovation.” Read the whole interview here.
A few weeks ago at Collision - one of the world’s largest technology and startup conferences – Microsoft for Startups Canada announced a new initiative with Betakit, Canada’s largest startup and technology media platform. As part of the collaboration, Microsoft for Startups and Betakit are launching #AINation, Canada’s first series focused on featuring some of the country’s top AI startups and providing founders with a platform to tell their story. Betakit will be creating a new video series featuring founders, CTOs, and CEOs.
Every year, Microsoft holds an internal conference focused on machine learning and data science that brings together more than 2,000 of the company’s top engineers and data scientists. They come together to explore the latest technologies and developments in the MLAD space. This year, Microsoft for startups worked to connect its partner startups with this important Microsoft community, and invited 30 leading startups who are active in our program to present their solutions at the event and engage directly with our teams.
In June, the second accelerator cohort of the Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Program, an immersive 6-month program for women entrepreneurs, kicked off in the greater Seattle area. This program will be expanded and will extend to eight additional countries, with programs planned for: Canada, France, Germany, India, Kenya, South Africa, UAE and the UK. Read more about this initiative here.
AI for Good Summit was held in San Francisco this month. The event included Fortune 100 companies, investors, partners and a range of AI startups. With a variety of topics were explored including Natural Language Processing (NLP), Deep Learning as well emerging policy issues around trust. US Managing Director, Shaloo Garg was joined by impact investors and had an insightful discussion on what it means to apply AI to benefit society and tackle global challenges such as the environment, education, healthcare and sustainability. While “AI for Good” could manifest in multiple sectors, the speakers identified the importance of creating transparent frameworks and common standards to ensure AI is used responsibly to positively impact economic growth.
Noga Tal joined Microsoft for Startups partner, Decelera, at a kick-off event in Menorca, Spain. Decelera is an organization that empowers entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and startups working towards sustainability through innovation and technology. Noga got to know the chosen startups in the program through one-on-one mentorship sessions. The event served as the start of an 18-month engagement program for global entrepreneurs in the impact space, all committed to one of the UN’s 17 sustainability goals. Microsoft for Startups will be supporting the chosen startups in the cohort with tech and business support, as well as curated content aimed at scaling their growth.
CES Asia, the premier consumer technology event in the Asian market, was held in Shanghai from June 11th – 13th. Microsoft for Startups was there with a significant presence from both our China and global teams. James Chou introduced Microsoft’s startup program as well as 12 partner startups that joined us in our booth to pitch their solutions to participants of the event. Additionally, our member startups, NextTao and Datamesh won CES Asia Innovation Awards.
Microsoft for Startups China Holds Spring Hackathon
At the end of last month, Microsoft for Startups Shanghai held a spring hackathon in partnership with iLab, a leading incubator targeting early stage startups. The hackathon targeted B2B startups with the goal of solving six industry challenges taken from real-world problems faced by leading enterprises including Ecolab and INESA. There were 21 startup participants that worked through three days of prototypes and demos while also receiving training in Azure AI services. The event ended with five selected finalists who received awards including access to Azure services as well as follow up meetings with C level decision makers at leading enterprises.
Over the past month, founders who took part Backstage Capital Accelerator’s inaugural cohorts celebrated their graduation from the program. Backstage Accelerator is a 3-month program designed to give founders the support they need to reach their next critical milestone. Founders worked with a team of experienced, passionate facilitators and received mentorship, investment capital, and access to potential investor networks. Members of the team including US MD Shaloo Garg were in attendance. You can learn more about the companies here.
Designed to connect innovative startups with potential investors, Startupfest is a 3-day festival packed with high-value content and competitions. Microsoft for Startups will be collaborating with the organizers to help support the event. If you’re in the area, it out here.
Microsoft Inspire is where our partners meet to connect, collaborate and celebrate as one community. Joining together with thousands of partners from over 130 countries, you’ll find inspiration from shared experiences and insights. Wherever you are in your journey as a partner, Microsoft Inspire can help accelerate your success. You can sign up here.
Traction brings together proven entrepreneurs who share their hard-won insights over the course of two days in Vancouver BC. Microsoft for Startups will be on hand to support the event. You can read more here.
Microsoft Learn Modules
The skills required to found a successful startup do not come easily. Now there’s a more rewarding approach to hands-on learning that helps you achieve your goals faster. Earn points, levels, and achieve more. In addition to technical training, we recently unveiled two modules covering the fundamentals of building your product.
- Pitching your Prototype - Write a compelling pitch deck for your product prototype that will resonate with your audience and share the vision of your prototype.
- Building a Product Road Map - Identify and construct Agile product road maps including audiences, prioritization, themes, milestones, epics, and user stories.
The latest episode of China Innovation Decoded features Andi Chen, COO and Co-founder of Whale, a leading IoT and AI startup in China focusing on retail experience and data solutions. Whale is dedicated to enlightening the future of retail by driving sales transformation through real-time content interaction based on customer behavior perception. In this episode, Andi shares how Whale is using its technology to enhance customers' shopping experience.