Microsoft launched Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Shanghai this Tuesday together with Shanghai Xuhui District government and state-backed electronics company INESA.
It’s the latest in a global network of Microsoft-backed accelerators. A total of eight acceleration programs, including the newly established on in Shanghai, have been launched in global startup hubs including Beijing, London, Bangalore, Berlin, Paris, Seattle and Tel Aviv.
The Microsoft Beijing accelerator has currently seen 126 projects graduate, providingservices to 500 million users since its establishment in 2012, according to the company. They noted the combined valuation of these projects is 38 billion RMB ($5.8 billion USD).
Like its Beijing counterpart, Microsoft Shanghai Accelerator favors projects in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, deep learning and big data. The company has taken the opportunity to promote their own cloud platform, Azure, in China’s growing cloud industry.
As China seeks to increase local innovation, startup acceleration and incubation programs have mushroomed around the country with varying degrees of success. In Shanghai alone, the number of incubators totaled over 150 a figure that surges to 400 including co-working and ‘innovation’ spaces. While the quick rise of incubators may foster China’s young startups, it brings some disturbing problems as well. (See our previous dive into China’s incubator bubble here)
Of course, Microsoft is not the first U.S.-based entity to explore China’s entrepreneurial market. Amazon’s cloud service AWS has launched a DreamT Accelerator in Shanghai two years earlier. A consortium of Chinese and American financial institutions also launched a Silicon Valley-China tech accelerator, InnoSpring, in 2012.