Microsoft for Startups has launched the Highway to a Hundred Unicorns initiative in Asia Pacific to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. This follows the initiative’s success in India, where 56 startups were selected to participate in Microsoft’s Emerge X program from six states, home to more than 15,000 startups. The Emerge X competition awarded outstanding startups with global market access support, a 3-day founder bootcamp with world class mentors, access to funding, ongoing mentorship, and guidance on Azure, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more.
The program is now expanding to 16 countries across Asia Pacific. Innovation is critical to unlocking inclusive economic growth in the region. High-income economies invest three times more in research and development as compared to their peers. To spur innovative entrepreneurship, Microsoft will work closely with governments and industry partners to discover and nurture technology startups with a high potential to become truly global enterprises in the future.
“Now more than ever we are looking to innovative companies to bring new ideas to the New Zealand economy,” said Vanessa Sorenson, Microsoft New Zealand Managing Director. “We are a nation of digital pioneers and innovators so this initiative is incredibly exciting, to assist and empower startups to grow into strong, thriving businesses. Today’s startup is tomorrow’s Microsoft, and so I really encourage New Zealand startups to submit their ideas so we can work together to bring their vision to life.”
Innovators and entrepreneurs from a total of 16 countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) are invited to be a part of the Highway to a Hundred Unicorns initiative.
To be considered, startups will first have to submit an application for Emerge X competitions in their countries. Criteria for startups to apply for Emerge X are as follows:
1. Business-to-Business companies with product-market fit, revenue generating with at least 3-4 clients.
2. Business-to-Customer companies with a large customer base (upward of 100K customers) and revenue generating.
3. Funding is a plus.
All Emerge X startups will be awarded with free GitHub and Azure credits and focused business and technology workshops. Three finalists per country will be announced in November. They will additionally benefit from a year-long mentorship with technical and business deep dives, a Founder Bootcamp over three days, access to enterprise clients globally through Microsoft’s unique co-sell program as well as opportunities to interact with Microsoft experts and industry stalwarts.