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Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella announced an initiative to help local startups working on solutions for smart cities, at the American technology company’s ‘Future Unleashed’ event in Mumbai. Towards this initiative, Microsoft will provide $120,000 worth of Azure credits-Microsoft’s public cloud platform to startups working on solving urban issues like education, logistics and services.

In a statement, Microsoft stated, “Working with startup accelerators, these startups can now apply for individual access to up to $120,000 worth of Azure computing to help India’s smart cities explore options and run smart city digital pilots. Cities can also apply for access to these services and solutions through a new portal which connects startups with cities and their needs.”

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In addition, Microsoft has also created an umbrella framework to help groups of startups market their niche products as an integrated solution for the Smart Cities project envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The company is already working with India’s newest state Telangana on one such project. Last month, a number of startups, Telangana government officials and Microsoft experts took part in a ‘Smart City Startups Conclave’ to map smart solutions for cities in Telangana. The conclave was run under Microsoft’s City-Next programme. The measures come as Microsoft wants to bridge the gap between governments and startups and strongly encourage innovation in the country by supporting government initiatives such as Smart Cities and Digital India.

Nadella also stated that the quality of ideas matter more than startup valuations in the long run. Without getting drawn into the debate of high valuations of startups these days, he maintained the position that “overfunding during times of change will make it possible for a whole lot of ideas to flourish.” He added that while several ecommerce companies in India are no longer startups, and have evolved into global companies with high capital and valuations. However, progress made in ecommerce has to be taken to smaller stake holders as well. Thus, he stressed upon Microsoft’s commitment to helping large and smaller players through its digital technology.

In the same direction of supporting Digital India initiative,  Nadella had announced during PM Modi’s visit to the Silicon Valley in September that Microsoft will take low-cost broadband technology to some five lakh villages across that country in collaboration with the Indian government. Through its Microsoft Ventures accelerator program, it runs program of four months, focused  towards promising early-stage startups or first-time entrepreneurs, wherein selected startups get strong mentoring, technical guidance and connections to other startups. Last year, it also launched JumpStart, a hotline that will be providing startups and entrepreneurs with a resource to ask business and technical questions. It aims at addressing the lack of real-time support for various critical queries the startups in India face.


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