Microsoft has launched an accelerator programme for UK cloud, mobile or gaming startups, based in London's Tech City.
Microsoft Ventures' 12-week accelerator programme will offer up to 20 startups mentoring from execs at Microsoft, Jenson Solutions, Train2Game, Lift London, Lionhead Studios and others.
At the end of the programme, based at Central Working in Shoreditch, the companies will present their ideas at a demo day to a panel of venture capitalists and investors.
While there are a growing number of accelerators operating in and around Tech City, Microsoft hopes its enterprise connections, and access to its software and support, can make it an attractive partner for fast-growing startups.
Microsoft Ventures was created earlier this year to boost Microsoft's outreach to startups, in part to encourage them to use Microsoft products when developing their business.
It offers mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding and joint selling opportunities. The accelerator in London is the latest of 10 planned by Microsoft around the world: it already has accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Paris, Seattle and Tel-Aviv and is adding Berlin, Moscow and Rio de Janeiro.
Of the 119 companies that have already participated in the global Microsoft Ventures programme, the company said 85 percent received funding on demo day or within six months.
The London accelerator is open to startups that are at seed stage. Companies chosen will also get membership of BizSpark, which gives startups access to three years of free software and support.
Microsoft will not be taking any equity in the startups but, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman, "ideally, building a relationship with early stage startups will lead to an effective partnership with Microsoft long-term and build preference for working with our platform".
The Microsoft spokeswoman said: "Microsoft Ventures does not have a dedicated, external fund. Rather, we invest in startups that meet our strategic objectives and investment criteria. We help portfolio companies with their corporate strategy, business development, and technical enablement. Microsoft Ventures provides startups with extensive routes to customers, globally. We have a very large footprint in the enterprise — through our network of partnerships such as the Microsoft Partner Network for example."