Microsoft Ventures — the corporate venture arm of Microsoft —, in collaboration with Madrona Venture Group, Notion Capital and Vertex Ventures Israel, announced a global competition, Innovate.AI, aimed at uncovering emerging startups working to progress the future of artificial intelligence. In total, Microsoft Ventures and its partners will award $3.5M in venture funding and $2M in Azure credits.
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A valuable prize for promising projects
Beginning today, startups harnessing AI for intelligent apps, services or platforms are encouraged to submit entries via the Microsoft Ventures website to compete for a chance at one of four prizes. One million dollars in venture funding and $500K in Azure credits will be awarded to one startup per region — North America, Europe and Israel — with a fourth prize for the applicant that best leverages AI to better society. The AI for Good prize consists of $500K in funding from Microsoft Ventures and $500K in Azure credits.
“At Microsoft, the future is rooted in the advancement of AI technologies. We’re excited to launch this competition with a strong group of venture capitalists that recognizes the importance of leveraging these technologies to amplify human ingenuity and power innovation in AI forward.” — Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president, global head of Microsoft Ventures.
Making AI more accessible and valuable to everyone all over the world is one of Microsoft’s core principles. By focusing on companies that are moving the needle on AI, Microsoft Ventures is helping bring to life AI’s transformative potential — maximizing efficiency, keeping us secure and helping to solve some of society’s biggest challenges. Partnering with companies that share these same commitments is a big step forward in accelerating innovation in AI and spurring growth in the design and development of future intelligent applications.
A competition that’s open to all companies in Northern-America, Europe and Israël
Startups in Luxembourg are also encouraged to submit their innovative AI-projects. Submissions will be accepted from Oct. 10 to Dec. 31, 2017, and open across three regions: Europe (EU), Israel, and North America (Canada, Mexico and U.S.). Companies will be eligible to apply if they have raised less than $4M in combined equity funding and/or loans at day of application, and must introduce a product, service or platform that utilizes or intends to utilize AI techniques, as defined by relevant scientific research.
By the 15th of March, up to 10 finalists will be chosen from each region for a chance to pitch their innovation in person as each vies for a chance to win their region’s $1M-plus prize. For Europe this ‘finale’ will take place in London. Winning startups may also benefit from competition exposure and potential future funding from regional VC partners. Full guidelines and contest information can be found on the Microsoft Ventures application page.