Microsoft launches home-automation start-up accelerator

Microsoft's latest start-up accelerator is focusing on home automation and will be based in Redmond, Wash.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft has launched its latest start-up accelerator, which will focus on home automation.


In partnership with American Family Insurance, one of the biggest mutual property/casualty insurance companies, Microsoft is looking to invest in start-ups in the home-automation market. This newest accelerator, the formation of which Microsoft announced on June 17, will be based on the Redmond, Wash., Microsoft campus.

American Family Insurance will provide participants with "a wealth of homeowner knowledge that would be impossible for young companies to gain access to on their own," according to Microsoft's press release. American Family also will be offering startups participating in the accelerator a minimum optional $25,000 equity investment in each startup accepted into the program. The home-automation accelerator will be operational from September to December 2014.

Microsoft has been conducting its own research in the home-automation space, with projects like its HomeOS operating system. Last year, Microsoft bought a home-automation focused company, id8 Group R2 Studios, whose technology the Redmondians are thought to be integrating with Xbox. More recently, it announced a partnership with Insteon, which is developing home-automation applications for Windows Phone and Windows 8.

Microsoft also has been putting more of its corporate eggs into the Internet of Things (IoT) basket, of which home-automation is a key piece. The Azure team is the lynchpin of Microsoft's IoT efforts.

Microsoft formed its consolidated start-up outreach arm, Microsoft Ventures, in 2013. The company already launched ventures accelerators in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

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