Australian technology start-ups are set to be given the chance to tap into Microsoft’s extensive network of partners with the software giant launching its ScaleUp accelerator program in the NSW Government’s Sydney StartUp Hub.
The Sydney-based iteration of the global ScaleUp program is the eighth such start-up accelerator to be launched by Microsoft, with others already operating in cities such as Seattle, Beijing, Berlin and London.
In the five years since the Microsoft ScaleUp programs first began running, close to 730 companies have graduated from the program and have cumulatively raised almost US$3 billion in venture capital, with no fewer than 48 successful exits between them.
Former CEO of start-up co-working space, Fishburners and co-founder of Telstra’s muru-D, Annie Parker, who has been appointed to lead Microsoft’s start-up programs around the world, will oversee the ScaleUp initiative globally.
However, Microsoft is in the process of recruiting a managing director to lead the Sydney ScaleUp program, and expects to run its first four-month program before the end of 2018.
According to Microsoft Australia managing director, Steven Worrall, the new Sydney-based ScaleUp program will give local tech start-ups the chance to not only tap into Microsoft’s resources, but also those of its broader partner network.
“There are a myriad of concerns as you get a business up and running, and the ScaleUp program intends to connect entrepreneurs and the start-up community with skilled resources inside Microsoft, but also importantly, inside our network of partners and alumni,” Worrall said.
According to Worrall, the explicit intent of the ScaleUp program is to help start-ups and entrepreneurs get their businesses to market faster.
Indeed, star-ups that are accepted into the Microsoft ScaleUp program get unparalleled access to expert advice, technology tools like Azure and Office 365, and Microsoft’s global network of customers.
It should be noted that, unlike most other accelerators, Microsoft does not take any equity in the start-ups it supports.
“Our aim is to be the ‘glue’ that connects the start-up ecosystem in Australia. Being part of the Sydney Startup Hub enables us to realise that ambition,” he said. “For any business to succeed it needs strong local and global connections and we believe Microsoft can help a startup be global from the outset.”
For the NSW Government, the launch of the ScaleUp program from its Sydney StartUp Hub, which was officially opened on 14 February – in conjunction with the Microsoft Sydney ScaleUp program launch – comes as a major win.
“The decision by Microsoft to move in to the new Sydney StartUp Hub is a huge vote of confidence in our city, our economy and the people that make up our start up community,” the state’s Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, said an event in the Sydney CBD on 14 February.
“Within Microsoft, there is enormous competition to secure Microsoft Scale-Up for different countries, so it’s an incredible result to see Sydney chosen as the newest location to host this sought-after and highly-acclaimed program.
“Last July the NSW Government committed $35 million to create a world leading startup and innovation hub and today we can see what has been created,” he said.
In addition to running the ScaleUp program, Microsoft will be an active tenant of the Sydney Startup Hub bringing its global expertise to sparking and supporting local NSW start-up ecosystems.
It will do this by running events, hackathons, investor pitch opportunities, CEO sessions, and a range of activities that will be open to the start-up community through the Sydney Startup Hub.