Microsoft New Zealand today announced partnerships with New Zealand's top business incubators, The ICEHOUSE and Creative HQ, to help startups fast-track their businesses through the new BizSpark Plus programme.
BizSpark Plus will allow the incubators to offer high-potential Kiwi startups free cloud computing services to the value of NZ$60,000 on the Windows Azure platform across two years, and a further discounted subscription after that.
The offer is an extension of the Microsoft BizSpark
"We are passionate about helping startups succeed by providing access to funding and mentorship from New Zealand's best and brightest entrepreneurs and investors. The relationship with Microsoft New Zealand will allow us to provide our clients with even more valuable support and services," said Andy Hamilton, CEO of The ICEHOUSE.
Creative HQ CEO, Steve O'Connor, says it is encouraging to see large companies like Microsoft investing in startups.
"Microsoft was a startup once and it can clearly see the value in nurturing today's up and coming companies".
"We see a huge amount of support from investors and serial entrepreneurs who want to back these early stage ventures, and to have Microsoft putting some serious grunt behind them for three years is further endorsement that the New Zealand startup community is coming into its own," says O'Connor.
Cloud applications and smart devices are a focal point of the new startup ecosystem, giving startups the ability to drive user adoption, scale their companies and generate financial returns with far less capital, more quickly than previously possible.
Creative HQ alumni Avancert.com, a Wellington-based online assessment and examination technology startup, is one of the first two companies in New Zealand to be accepted into Microsoft's BizSpark Plus program.
"Being accepted into BizSpark Plus is something we're very proud of," says Avancert CEO Sean Davidson. "It validates our business as up there with the best and gives us 'on demand' access to technology infrastructure that we can scale up as our business grows." "Having access to the Windows Azure cloud platform means we can have hundreds of extra servers running our application for just a few hours and only have to pay for that usage. That's great for end of term exam scenarios for example and enables us to make computer based assessment easy and affordable for everyone." Thiago Almeida, Microsoft Developer Evangelist says the ICEHOUSE and Creative HQ were the natural choice when Microsoft was looking for partners. "The ICEHOUSE and Creative HQ both have proven track records for producing world-class startups and we are excited at the opportunity to work together to help startups when they need it most - with products, resources and connections. Startups can expect future high-value offering from Microsoft through the BizSpark Plus programme."
"Windows Azure is a powerful, integrated platform, making it easy for startups to get their services up and running quickly with minimal overhead cost. This is the first offer from the new BizSpark Plus programme, and we look forward to supporting all incubator members with a number of technology offerings".
BizSpark Plus Partners are chosen for their ability to impact their local markets, influence in the entrepreneurial community and proven success with early-stage startups. BizSpark Plus offers are available to leading startups by invite-only through individual relationships with BizSpark Plus Partners.
For more information go to http://www.microsoft.com/BizSpark/Plus