Rackspace is getting set to launch a scheme offering free cloud-computing resources to emerging businesses in the UK.
The Rackspace Startup Programme, expected to launch in 2013, will work with British incubator and accelerator partners to identify local companies that would benefit from a cloud-computing boost in their early days.
Start-ups linked to those incubators can apply for £12,000 in annual cloud hosting from Rackspace, with a maximum of £1,000 in any one month.
The plans, unveiled at the Google Campus in London's Tech City on Tuesday, extend a programme already in place in the US and Australia. In two years, more than 850 start-ups have been chosen to participate in the US, and Rackspace expects to hit the same number in the UK.
The move is a vote of confidence for Britain as a start-up hotspot. Rackspace noted that a quarter-of-a-million new businesses opened their doors in 2009, according to government figures, and company chairman Graham Weston was enthusiastic about local activity.
"Whenever I come to London I feel tremendously energised and excited by the amazing start-up scene here," Weston, whose mother is British, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
In August, chancellor George Osborne said leading tech companies are "beating a path" to the UK, helping London to become a hub for investment in new businesses. Vodafone has opened an incubation centre, while Barclays has set up a space to spur collaboration in start-ups, he noted.
Rackspace has already started talking to British accelerators about becoming partners in its UK scheme, and it expects to work with DreamStake and Springboard, it said. Sean Kane, Springboard's co-founder, backed the idea of cloud computing as a sufficiently flexible resource for fast-growing new businesses.
"With a multiplicity of extremely sensitive and highly fluid business factors to juggle, start-ups need an IT backbone built around maximum levels of elasticity, control and automation. We welcome Rackspace's commitment to providing this through their cloud offering," said Sean Kane, co-founder of Springboard. "The scalability in a pay-as-you-go model is essential for fast-growing businesses and will be a key business enabler for startups now and in the future."