25. June 2013–
Not to miss out on the startup hype that has taken over corporates in Germany lately, Microsoft has finally joined the club and launched the Microsoft Centre in Berlin. It's a part of Microsoft's new worldwide initiative called Microsoft Ventures, which aims to support the startup scene by offering a community evangelism programme, an accelerator programme and a seed fund. It'll be a single point of entry for startups to engage with the company.
While not keen to reveal too many details in its announcement this morning, Microsoft presented its new tech hub, which, once it has been renovated, will be located in a historical building at Unter den Linden 17. The new centre should be ready at the end of September and will be used to promote dialogue between Microsoft customers, business partners, the media, entrepreneurs, politicians and the community. The 3,000 square foot centre will be the first of its kind in the world.
Christian Illek, Managing Director of Microsoft Germany, said, "In Berlin, we’re aiming to be hosts, a point of contact and a meeting place. IT is becoming personal – and Microsoft will be too.”
In a media release, Microsoft said it picked Berlin because of the city's creativity and strong startup scene, which draws people from around the world. With the launch of the tech centre, Berlin will become the most important location for Microsoft in Europe.
A café, events rooms and two levels exclusively for startups
The software giant is keen for the centre to attract a range of people, not just the usual suspects from the startup scene. The building will have a café on the ground floor that is open to the public. Customers can use a number of Microsoft products such as Xbox, Surface, Kinect and Windows phone that the café will be kitted out with. The centre will also feature an area for events plus offices for Microsoft employees.
The top two levels will be reserved for IT startups – the company says it won't only provide founders with work space, but also with the infrastructure and advice to implement ideas. Just how many startups will be housed there hasn't been determined yet, "one or two handfuls" that are in the business plan stage, we're told. In the future, the startups will have a better chance at receiving financing, with Microsoft providing access to its network of contacts at High-Tech Gründerfonds and other VCs.
The startups will be in a programme when they move into the centre, the details of which remain murky – as does the question of how coaching and housing these startups will benefit Microsoft.
Today's news comes after Microsoft announced the BizSpark European Summit 2013, an event to connect startups, investors, media and political representatives from Germany, which will take place on 4 July in the new centre. At the moment, Microsoft has five accelerators in Seattle, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Beijing, and Paris, along with the soon-to-be-launched Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, and Moscow programmes.
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