Microsoft establishes $3.5M competition for AI startups

Microsoft Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Microsoft, launched a global competition to offer $3.5 million in funding to startups focused on artificial intelligence Oct. 10.

Microsoft Ventures launched the competition, called Innovate.AI, in partnership with Madrona Venture Group, Notion Capital and Vertex Ventures Israel. The partners will select up to 10 startups developing AI-powered apps, services or platforms from each region — North America, Europe and Israel.

Selected startups will compete to win their region's prize of $1 million-plus in venture funding and $500,000 in Azure credits. A fourth prize will also be awarded to the applicant that best uses AI to improve society. The prize comprises $500,000 in venture funding and $500,000 in Azure credits.

The startup competition is one piece of Microsoft's ongoing mission to make AI "more accessible and valuable to everyone all over the world," according to a company statement. Microsoft named AI a top priority for the first time in its most recent annual report released in August.

Microsoft Ventures will accept applications for the competition from Oct. 10 to Dec. 31. Eligible companies must have raised less than $4 million in combined equity funding and loans.

Click here to view the application guidelines.

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