Microsoft Ventures to identify startups in AI space via competition

artificial-intelligenceMicrosoft Ventures announced a global competition, Innovate.AI, to identify startups in artificial intelligence space.

Microsoft Ventures and its partners will award $3.5 million in venture funding and $2 million in Azure credits.

Madrona Venture Group, Notion Capital and Vertex Ventures Israel are the partners of Microsoft.

AI startups can submit entries via the Microsoft Ventures website for the AI competition. They can submit applications from October 10 to December 31, 2017 in three regions: Europe (EU), Israel, and North America (Canada, Mexico and U.S.).

$1 million in venture funding and $500K in Azure credits will be awarded to one startup per region — North America, Europe and Israel. The fourth prize is for the applicant that best leverages AI to better society. The AI for Good prize consists of $500K in funding from Microsoft Ventures and $500K in Azure credits.

“At Microsoft, the future is rooted in the advancement of AI technologies,” said Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president, global head of Microsoft Ventures.

Microsoft Ventures is helping bring to life AI’s transformative potential — maximizing efficiency, keeping us secure and helping to solve some of society’s biggest challenges.


Companies will be eligible to apply if they have raised less than $4 million in equity funding and/or loans at day of application, and must introduce a product, service or platform that utilizes or intends to utilize AI techniques, as defined by relevant scientific research.

Up to 10 finalists will qualify from each region for a chance to pitch their innovation in person as each vies for a chance to win their region’s $1 million-plus prize. Winning startups may also benefit from competition exposure and potential future funding from regional VC partners.

Madrona has been investing in early-stage technology companies in the Pacific Northwest since 1995. Madrona invests predominately in seed and Series A rounds across the information technology spectrum. Madrona manages more than $1.3 billion and was an early investor in companies such as, Apptio,, and Redfin.

Notion Capital founded, built and exited two SaaS businesses — Star and MessageLabs. The Notion portfolio includes Brightpearl, Dealflo, GoCardless, MOVE Guides, NewVoiceMedia, Currencycloud, Tradeshift, Triptease and Workable.

Vertex Ventures Israel, with cumulative committed capital in excess of $2.5 billion, invests in early-stage IT and healthcare opportunities in Silicon Valley, China, India, Israel, and South East Asia. Since 1988, Vertex partnered with the founders of Waze, 91, Grab, IGG, CyberArk, Reebonz, SolarEdge, Force10, FirstCry, Yatra and Changba.

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