Microsoft has announced a global contest with prize money of $3.5 million. The contest is aimed at finding a startup with the best idea on how artificial intelligence can harnessed in solving a real-world problem. To run the global contest Microsoft is partnering with a couple of venture capital firms which represent three regions namely Israel, the European Union and North America. The three venture capital firms are Vertex Ventures Israel, Notion Capital and Madrona Venture Group.
Besides the $3.5 million that will be offered as venture funding, the winner will also get Azure credits worth $2 million. Interested startups can submit their entries via the website of Microsoft Ventures starting on October 10, 2017. The contest will close on December 31, 2017 and results will be announced next year.
“At Microsoft, the future is rooted in the advancement of AI technologies. We’re excited to launch this competition with a strong group of venture capitalists that recognizes the importance of leveraging these technologies,” said Microsoft Ventures’ global head, Nagraj Kashyap.
Microsoft Ventures is Microsoft’s corporate venture arm and has offices in Tel Aviv, Seattle, San Francisco, New York and London. Some of the investments that Microsoft Ventures has made in artificial intelligence include Element.ai, Bonsai.ai and Maluuba which was acquired last year by the Seattle, Washington-based software maker.
According to Microsoft, making artificial intelligence more valuable and accessible to all human beings across the globe is one of its core principles. And by putting its focus on startups that possess revolutionary ideas, Microsoft Ventures hopes to maximize efficiency and security as well as offer AI solutions to some of the biggest challenges in society. By forming partnerships with like-minded companies, there will be acceleration in artificial intelligence innovation and this will spur growth in the development and design of future AI applications.
Some of the conditions of eligibility include having raised under $4 million in loans or equity funding by the time the application is being sent in. Startups must also come up with a platform, service or product which makes use of intends to use artificial intelligence techniques.
From each region up to ten finalists will get a chance of pitching their innovation. Besides the prize money and Azure credits, the winning startups will get competition exposure as well as networking opportunities with venture capitalists that could provide future funding.