Microsoft has selected Brisbane as the location for its first local innovation centre, which will be launched in July, as the company looks to establish a foothold in the local start-up ecosystem.
In anticipation of the launch, Microsoft has already established relationships with Brisbane incubators, organisations and universities, including: River City Labs, the incubator recently founded by Stephen Baxter (former CTO of Pipe Networks, which was recently sold for $373 million); "idea network" at the University of Queensland; and the "innovation space" at Queensland University of Technology.
"Microsoft, as most of you know, is a partner-led organisation," Microsoft emerging business team director Jay Henningsen said at a lunch in Sydney yesterday. "We reached out and started working with the local incubators, which really provide all the support a start-up needs."
The innovation centre is open to students, software developers, entrepreneurs and academic researchers, and provides training and services across three key areas:
- Skills development: there will be business planning, operations management, HR, sales and marketing, as well as software-development courses and employment programs for students
- Partner accelerator: Australian start-ups can access Microsoft services via the local BizSpark partners, which include Angel Cube, Fishburners, Blue Chilli, Push Start, Founders Institute, Start Mate, StartPad, Startup Weekend and York Butter Factory
- Innovation accelerator: this provides access to labs, prototype development and testing facilities; there is also a start-up incubator program and developer camps.
He also announced the BizSpark Plus program, which will provide start-ups with up to $60,000 worth of Windows Azure services over two years, adding that this could extend to other Microsoft products in the future.
Microsoft and the Queensland Government have also organised a three-day trade mission to the US for eight Queensland businesses, which will explore the company's mobile enterprise products road map, according to Microsoft Australia marketing and communications manager Emily Easterby.
"There will be business-matching opportunities, they'll spend time in our executive briefing centre," Easterby said. "We're really investing in our partners who we've recognised to be emerging companies in Queensland and showing high potential."