Microsoft India initiates startup programme ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns’ for Tier 2 cities

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Microsoft India, has launched ‘Highway to a Hundred Unicorns‘ programme with a view to innovate and accelerate entrepreneurship in Tier 2 cities in India.

The programme has been launched in collaboration with the Industries Commissionerate and iNDEXTb, Government of Gujarat. It aims to foster the Indian startup ecosystem in the tier 2 cities.

Microsoft, with the help of the programme, will engage with innovators and entrepreneurs through a series of outreach programmes across Tier 2 cities.

Lathika Pai, country head, Microsoft for Startups, said, “There is a strong pool of ideas and talent beyond the well-known startup hubs of India. Our tech expertise and experience of engaging with some of the most successful Indian startups will help innovators across the breadth of the country become enterprise-ready and scale their operations in India and globally.”

The American conglomerate will work closely with state governments to strengthen the startup ecosystems in each state.

The company said that it believes that some of the key challenges in scaling tier 2 startups business include lack of cutting-edge technology support and a dearth of mentorship from ecosystem players.

The startups attending the events will receive guidance and mentorship through technology workshops on subjects like Azure, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Also, identified top startups in the “Emerge 10-Gujarat” will receive Azure credits and selected startups will also be invited to pitch for access to the Microsoft ScaleUp programme.

The company also launched its corporate venture fund M12 in India this year.

For India, M12 has said that startups cater to a global customer base, most notably in artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, software as a service (SaaS), data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT).

Furthermore, according to a report, 20 per cent of the total startups in India are based in tier 2 and 3 cities.

While, presently, there are over 5,800 startups in tier 2 cities.

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