Microsoft unveils partnership with Canary Wharf's Level39

By Giles Broadbent on May 7, 2014 10:10 AM |

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Startup incubator Level39 says that a new partnership with Microsoft is validation of Canary Wharf's quest to become a significant player in the Tech City community.

The collaboration will see startup companies at the One Canada Square hub have access to mentoring, finance and advice from one of the largest software companies in the world.

Head of Level39 Eric van der Kleij said: "We focus on three verticals FinTech, retail technology and future cities. In each of those sectors Microsoft has some amazing talent that we want access to, people who are connected, people who understand business.

"Microsoft's commitment to putting an office in Level39 to make that connection better, to mentor startups, to give them feedback is incredibly valuable.

"Key executives within Microsoft are going to be invited to come and sit and work there. This will be their office. We have a cookie bell at 3pm when the community all connects every day, they will be there. We might even let them ring the bell!"

The software giant made the announcement alongside Level39 at its investor day event in Millbank at which 12 startup companies pitched their ideas. The event marked the completion of the first Microsoft Ventures Accelerator programme in the capital.

Anand Krishnan, of Microsoft said: "The announcement demonstrates our dedication to the London startup community and also reflects the wider trend where we now have a UK startup ecosystem with the potential to deliver blockbuster tech companies on a global stage."

Mr Van Der Kleij said: "For us it's a validation of Phase One for L39 that one of the world's major tech companies has decided that this part of London's tech scene is growing significantly enough and is doing so many pretty audacious things that they want to be part of it."

He said in the first year of Level39, 687 companies had applied - "astonishing for an area known for big financial services". The hub accepted 87. The "graduate" floor for high-growth companies - Level 42 - was already half full and "we're already thinking where's the next space."

Mr Krishnan said: "The one thing we hadn't counted on was the number of skills you can call on when you're a major corporation like us that is interested in working with startups with no real return except that it is satisfying for them."

Microsoft Ventures is now seeking its next cohort of applications and the next programme will be able to access finance from the new JVM Technology Fund.

WHAT IT MEANS
■ Microsoft is now in residence at Level39 which means that startups will have onsite access to a Microsoft-branded space where Microsoft experts offer guidance and advice in areas of expertise, from technology, to enterprise sales, finance and product development.

■ Microsoft will also deliver a programme of workshops on cloud and other services. In addition, Level39 has become a BizSpark Plus Network Partner, giving it the ability to offer its startups access to £60,000 worth of credits on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

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