Microsoft says India a strategic market, offers $1 lakh prize money for best start-ups

MUMBAI: Microsoft today said India is a strategic market for it, and also announced a $ one-lakh grant to promote innovation among domestic start-up companies.

"Microsoft is happy to reiterate its commitment to India by fostering innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Towards this, we are pleased to launch the ' Microsoft Bizspark India Start-up Challenge' under which four most promising start-ups will share a prize money of $ 1,00,000," Microsoft Corp chief operating officer Kevin Turner said here today.

On investment plans for India this fiscal, Turner said they will continue to invest here as it is strategically an important market. But he refused to give any specifics in terms of the timeline or quantum of such investment.

The Microsoft Bizspark India Start-up Challenge is a unique contest for start-ups in the field of product software to showcase their creativity, get constructive feedback, inputs on technology roadmap and gain mentorship from peers, investors and Microsoft.

The first two winners will get $ 40,000 each and the two runners-up will get $ 10,000 each under the contest, which will be open to all the 1,300 member-companies of the Microsoft BizSpark platform. The contest opens today and will run till June.

The BizSpark platform has been running to promote a local software ecosystem, Microsoft India general manager for developer platform evangelism Moorthy Uppaluri. Over the years, through the Spark series, Microsoft has helped and guided many aspiring entrepreneurs, Uppaluri said and insisted that this is not a revenue-based business model but an investment being made under personal guidance of Bill Gates .

"What more, with 4.5 million downloads of Microsoft programmes/products, a year, India has become the largest free-software download market in the world," Uppaluri said.

The Spark series include DreamSpark, WebsiteSpark, I-Spark, BizSpark and BizSparkOne aimed at students and entrepreneurs alike.
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