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Autodesk launching $100m fund for cloud developers

The design software maker has just unveiled Forge, a new project seemingly inspired by the Maker Movement.

Autodesk has been keenly focused on bolstering its cloud and hardware portfolios -- especially around 3D printing -- over the last few years, and a new initiative could tie the two agendas closer together.

The design software maker has just unveiled Forge, a new project seemingly inspired by the Maker Movement with the goal of fueling development for cloud-based technologies with a bent on Internet connectivity.

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"We are inviting innovators to take advantage of Autodesk's cloud platform to build services that turn today's disconnected technologies into highly connected, personalized experiences," explained Amar Hanspal, senior vice president of products at Autodesk, in Tuesday's announcement.

At the base of the project is the Forge Platform, a Platform-as-a-Service offering that offer open APIs and SDKs to software developers at small and large organizations alike.

To grow the developer base even further, Autodesk is launching a new $100 million fund, which will be doled out over the next several years to emerging companies and startups that build new products rooted in the Forge Platform.

The Bay Area-based company also pledged additional technical training and support as well as business consulting services on top of investment funds.

Autodesk will also be relying on industry partnerships to further Forge along, starting with an initial pool of six tech companies including 3D printing specialist Fathom and BriteHub, a cloud-based platform for collaboration in the manufacturing industry.

Forge follows up another $100 million fund that Autodesk launched last year, dedicated to third-party 3D printing developers and companies.

Dubbed the Spark Investment Fund, the pool of money linked back to Autodesk's Spark open software platform introduced previously in 2014 as a system for connecting 3D printing hardware and "digital information," a.k.a. data.

The Spark Fund, aimed at startups and researchers aiming to advance 3D printing technologies, would ideally bring more attention and engagement to the Spark platform.