Microsoft To Support 54 Indian Start-Ups From Tier II Cities Launched in September last year by Microsoft for Startups programme, the initiative is meant to work closely with local governments to support the start-up ecosystem in each state.

By Debroop Roy

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Telangana Emerge X Winners with (L-R) - Lathika Pai, Jayesh Ranjan, Gayle Sheppard and Rajiv Kumar

Global tech giant Microsoft's "Highway to a Hundred Unicorns' initiative has selected 54 start-ups from tier II cities across India through the Telangana leg of its Emerge-X competition, the company said on Monday. The start-ups were selected from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala and Telangana.

Launched in September last year by Microsoft for Startups programme, the initiative is meant to work closely with local governments to support the start-up ecosystem in each state. The fifth edition was hosted at Hyderabad in association with the government of Telangana.

In recent times, tech giants such as Microsoft and Facebook have made it abundantly clear about their interests in the burgeoning start-up ecosystem in India. With the incumbent government too showing its willingness to support the landscape, Microsoft has come up with programmes like Microsoft for Startups and its corporate venture fund M12 to portray itself as an active member of the ecosystem.

Related: These 3 Global Tech Giants are Betting Big on Indian Start-ups

In June last year, Washington-based Microsoft announced plans to invest up to $10 million in Indian start-ups, months after M12 made an investment in health-tech start-up Innovaccer.

Focus on Tier II

As the idea of start-ups has gone beyond the traditional hubs—the metropolitan cities—there has been an increased focus on providing support to those coming out of smaller, less visible places.

"The entrepreneurial energy of start-ups is rising well beyond the known metropolitan hubs and is remarkably high in tier II cities, despite the obvious challenges," Lathika Pai, country head at Microsoft for Startups, MENA and SAARC, said in a statement.

While the latest edition of the competition saw the participation of over 150 innovators and entrepreneurs, the statement said more than 650 start-ups have participated in the five events so far. Apart from its own support, the initiative has seen over 75 ecosystem players including NASSCOM, TiE as well as other investors in the country participate.

Fashion e-commerce start-up Wholesalebox and sales order management software provider Rapidor are among the participating start-ups in the programme that have received recent fresh funding from one of the participating investors, the statement said.

The top start-ups selected through Emerge-X get credits for Microsoft's cloud platform Azure among other business and tech benefits. The top three start-ups from each state are admitted to a year-long mentorship programme and a two-day founder bootcamp.

"In the next phase of our journey, we look forward to engaging with more startups and accelerating their growth and providing them with Microsoft's platform to go global," Pai said.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.

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