Away from glitz of tech startups, Microsoft, Accenture now bet on social startups to solve challenges

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Updated: Mar 04, 2020 2:31 PM

The support is part of Microsoft’s Global Social Entrepreneurship programme launched last month that helps startups address social or environmental challenges.

Microsoft, Microsoft startup, startup ecosystem, India startup ecosystem,The areas of focus to support startups would agriculture, education, and healthcare.

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a tie-up with Accenture to support social impact and sustainability-focused startups and entrepreneurs. The partnership between the research arms of the two organisations — Microsoft Research India and Accenture Labs will help startups in the social enterprise space to test and validate their proof of concepts, host sessions on design thinking to enable them to understand the impact of their solutions along with technology support from Microsoft. The initiative will “empower these startups so they can use technology to make an even greater impact in addressing many of the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations.

Unlike startups in emerging sectors such as e-commerce, grocery, foodtech, young business in the social/impact space using technology has not been able to attract limelight from investors. As per a startup survey by the Reserve Bank of India last year, a substantial section of startups also intended to serve social causes.” 34.8 per cent of 1,246 startups surveyed between November 2018 and April 2019 had cited social service as a major motivation behind launching businesses. Both Microsoft and Accenture have been actively supporting startups through their investment arms along with incubation services and competitions such as M12 (earlier known as Microsoft Ventures), Accenture Ventures, Accenture Ventures Applied Intelligence Challenge, Microsoft ScaleUp etc. Microsoft on Monday also announced a programme for B2B software-as-a-service startups called 100x100x100x.

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The areas of focus in the tie-up with Accenture would be to support startups in agriculture, education, and healthcare in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The tie-up is part of Microsoft’s Global Social Entrepreneurship programme launched last month that supports startups addressing social or environmental challenges by giving them access to technology tools such as Microsoft AI, cloud expertise apart from go-to-market services, customer access and grants in terms of sustainability, accessibility, and employability. On the other hand, for Accenture, the initiative is part of its existing Tech4Good programme that also focuses on the use of technology to solve social challenges.

“This collaboration is a great illustration of delivering on ‘value’ and ‘values’ – creating tangible business and social value while aligning with people’s values,” said Paul Daugherty, Group Chief Executive, Accenture Technology and Chief Technology Officer, Accenture.

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