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Image - startupmission.kerala.gov.in

In an initiative that would considerably boost Kerala’s startup ecosystem, technology and software giant Microsoft on Friday launched a business mentorship programme for nascent firms across the state that would turn their innovations into products and catalyze their scalability in the long run.

Microsoft’s ambitious Highway to a Hundred Unicorns project in India entered Kerala by rolling out day-long guidance and networking sessions to the states promising startups.

Twelve select firms from the state are vying for a national-level round that ensures advanced guidance on developing products, strategies and funds for three finalist startups towards becoming Unicorn companies that are valued over US$1 billion.

India currently has 26 unicorns and set an ambitious target to have 100 such entities.

“Its high time India had its startup ecosystems in cities beyond the metros, and thats why Microsoft is holding the event at Kochi after rounds in Gujarat and Rajasthan, speakers said at the inaugural session.

The programme is held in association with Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) at its premises in Kalamassery, near here.

Keralas status as a state with a rich variety of startups has led Microsoft to choose 12 among them for
long-term mentorship instead of ten that has been the case earlier with Gujarat and Rajasthan, according to Lathika S Pai of the MNC.

That’s why we have titled the Kerala leg Emerge Xinstead of Emerge 10,she pointed out.

Lathika, Country Head, Microsoft for Startups (MENA and SAARC), said Microsoft has brought in Kerala its top experts who are vastly experienced in giving startups tips on turning innovations into products and subsequently scale their operations both inside and outside the country.

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Kerala IT Secretary M Sivasankar said Microsoft’s Highway to a Hundred Unicorns project has come
to the state at the right time.

We are at a stage now where there is the structure, but without a roof. This programme will help
Kerala’s startups gain an ecosystem that gets built sheet by sheet, he said.

A dozen experts from Microsoft mentored close to 200 startups at Friday’s event at KSUMs Integrated Startup Complex, while also introducing them to senior government
officials and founders of successful unicorns.

The Highway to a Hundred Unicorns project under the Microsoft for Startups initiative in India enables
startups to reach customers across the globe by leveraging the cloud marketplace, enterprise sales team and partner ecosystem.

With its strong focus on advanced technology platform, growing partner ecosystem and M12 venture fund, the MNC strives to help startups embrace the next phase of growth and
evolve from being market-ready to enterprise-ready. PTI TGB


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