Microsoft has announced the consolidation of a number of its startup outreach programs into a single entity called Microsoft Ventures.
""Microsoft Ventures" is a coordinated global effort that offers the tools, resources, expertise and routes to market by providing mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding, joint selling opportunities and other benefits. Microsoft isn't new to working with startups," the company stated.
According to the company, it has provided more than 75,000 startups from over 100 countries access to tools and resources through the BizSpark since 2008. Microsoft in the past two years 114 startups have graduated, and "nearly all" sought a subsequent round of funding from the accelerator programs. In addition, the company launched Bing Fund in 2012 to make seed investments in startups.
Microsoft says BizSpark will continue to offer access to Microsoft tools and technologies, including Windows and Office, Visual Studio, Windows Azure and more.
Further, it said the Bing Fund is evolving with additional funding to support even more startups. Startups with a full-time founding team or alignment to Microsoft domain expertise in "enterprise software, big data, security, artificial intelligence, advertising, gaming, SaaS and cloud services" can receive direct funding.
To qualify for consideration in these accelerators, applying companies "must have a full-time founding team, a bold vision for tackling a real problem, technologically driven solutions and less than $1 million raised," according to Microsoft.
And, the new Microsoft Ventures Accelerators "will supplement the existing Microsoft accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Paris, Seattle and Tel Aviv" -- as well as "new additions in Berlin, Moscow and Rio de Janeiro."