Microsoft Corp yesterday said it aims to help foster 40 local start-ups within three years of the launch of its first accelerator program in Taiwan, which is to focus on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
It is the latest move by the US software giant to scale up its global accelerator program by supporting local start-ups and providing an opportunity for them to become a part of Microsoft’s ecosystem.
The company has launched similar accelerator programs in Beijing, Shanghai and London, among other cities.
“Our goal is to help Taiwan quicken its pace in fostering next-generation start-ups via this platform. We can help reduce risks for Taiwanese start-up companies and help them take off,” Microsoft Taiwan Corp general manger Ken Sun (孫基康) told a media briefing.
Microsoft would introduce about 10 to 15 local start-ups into the accelerator program in its first round, Sun said.
New start-ups would be joining the program every four months via a selection process, he said.
The company would help selected start-ups with technology and mentoring, and provide legal and financial consulting services, as well as access to global marketplaces or partners, Microsoft said.
Microsoft usually selects start-ups valued at US$5 million to participate in its accelerator programs, but the criteria would be eased in Taiwan, given the nation’s smaller market.
As local manufacturers are keen on upgrading their factories by using AI technologies to reduce costs and overcome labor shortages, it is likely that local start-ups will come up with innovative ideas to address the issues, Microsoft Accelerator director Peter Hu (胡德民) told the news conference.
“Launching an initial public offering is not the only road that start-ups can take. Those start-ups can leverage Microsoft’s technologies, and its local partnerships and ecosystems to grow,” Hu said. “We hope to help local start-up teams to find their own formulas to success.”
Microsoft said it would not take any shares in the start-ups accepted into its accelerator program, nor would it send representatives to intervene in their operations.
Microsoft has worked with local start-up Smasoft Technology Co (偲倢科技) to develop a technology to find flaws in manufacturing processes and to create a smart supply chain using Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning technology, which was demonstrated at the news conference.
The US company also showcased an air pollution monitoring system for smart cities it developed in collaboration with Tricorntech Corp (創控科技), established in 2013, using Microsoft’s Azure IoT Hub technology.
Microsoft said it has established an AI research and development center, and an Internet of Things innovation center in Taiwan to help local companies embrace the “Industry 4.0” era.