UK companies with "high potential" can now get a helping hand from Microsoft, the software giant said on Monday, as it launched a new scheme to support start-ups.
Announcing the Startup Accelerator Programme, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said the aim was to help those companies that show enormous potential but find it difficult to get started in the right way. A similar scheme has been running in the US since August.
According to Ballmer: "Software offers huge opportunities for new UK businesses, but even great ideas and ground-breaking innovation are sometimes not enough to bring long-term success".
The programme is designed, said Ballmer, to "help fledgling businesses realise their potential and achieve success". It includes technical support and guidance on Microsoft technologies and platforms, including Silverlight — Microsoft's competitor to Adobe's Flash — and its Live offerings, which also received a shot in the arm with the announcement of new services on Monday.
To help promote the businesses, Microsoft will be offering commercial help as well, but first companies have to "be successful" in being considered suitable by Microsoft. Once accepted, qualifying start-ups will get access to tools and services to help "accelerate their businesses commercially", the company said in a statement. This will include "access to marketing and sales support, as well as business-development sessions hosted by Microsoft".
The scheme was launched at a half-day conference in London. At least four companies — Miomni, Zebtab, Corebridge and ViaPost — have already successfully joined the scheme.