An American expedition to fund start-ups

Article By : Sufia Tippu

The opportunity to invest in India's startups has not been missed by the large U.S. MNCs. They are lining up with accelerator programmes.

« Previously: Global accelerators wake up to India opportunity

The opportunity to invest in India's startups has not been missed by the large U.S. multinationals. Lining up are Apple, Google and GE who have recently announced the setting of their accelerator arms. Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm and Cisco already have had India-focused accelerator programmes in India.

Last May, Apple announced an accelerator facility in Bangalore that would support entrepreneurs and app developers. "With the opening of this new facility in Bengaluru, we're giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world," said Apple CEO Tim Cook during his first visit to India. The company will work closely with dozens of Indian startups, including some prominent ones, as part of its new accelerator program, according to a report in Economic Times.

Late last year, Google selected 7 startups from India who will join the third class of its Launchpad Accelerator programme. These companies will join start-ups from Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico Argentina, Colombia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam as part of the program, Google said in a statement. Over a period of 1 year, 13 Indian start-ups have participated in the programme and many have already raised funding, according to Launchpad Accelerator Program Manager Paul Ravindranath G.

On the other hand, Intel India’s Maker Lab’s objective is to accelerate design-in-India capability and grow India’s innovation ecosystem. “We are focused on creating a platform to facilitate hardware and systems-based innovators in India and propel start-ups forward in the tech-intensive competitive market,” said an Intel spokesperson.

Microsoft to go beyond pushing tools?

Interestingly, 7 months ago Microsoft revived its venture capital arm Microsoft Ventures and armed it with an independent fund allocation for start-ups similar to Google Capital's and Qualcomm's investment strategy. It is now back on track to fund start-ups with significant funds, which was lacking earlier.

The global partnership with Singapore-based investment company Temasek, to support and scale start-ups associated with Microsoft Accelerator is likely to ensure that there is more attention from global headquarters since Temasek has invested in Indian start-ups.

Earlier, Microsoft Accelerator was clubbed with several other programs such as BizSpark, Microsoft Reactor and the Bing Fund, which primarily promoted Microsoft products and cloud computing. Funding was used as an incentive towards that end.

But the new line of thought is that "Ventures" would look beyond immediate benefits for Microsoft and work for the ecosystem. But it has yet to do any early stage investments —it has merely provided early stage companies with tools, technology and consulting through Microsoft Accelerator.

In February, Cisco and GSF jointly launched an accelerator programme for start-ups in the IoT and cloud space. GSF Global Accelerator is a 13-week programme to foster innovation in the fast-growing Indian digital economy. The program would focus on both software and hardware platforms. GSF would provide $45,000 in funding to each of the selected start-ups and start-ups would receive additional mentorship through GSF mentor network and Cisco.

In September GE Healthcare, the healthcare technology division of GE, had launched the company's first healthcare accelerator, Five.eight, aimed at improving healthcare in developing economies. The accelerator will target global health start-ups who have at least received a Series A funding and are aligned with GE's focus area, healthcare.

“Globally, it's estimated that more than 5.8 billion people in the world lack access to quality, affordable healthcare," said John Flannery, president and CEO of GE Healthcare during the launch of the accelerator. "Through Five.eight, our goal is to fuel the greater global health ecosystem, partnering with social impact investors and global health startups, in order to maximise impact and outcomes for populations."

Silicon Valley-based Spinta Accelerator launched India operations in August 2015 with a 400-member technology team, while US retailer Target launched its India accelerator and has already taken three batches into its program already.

Next: Europe in queue »

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