Microsoft, Cradle to add spark to startups


SOFTWARE giant Microsoft Malaysia and funding organisation Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd are working together to equip technology startups with the capital to fire up their businesses.

The commercialisation funding project, known as Capital2Spark, is a continuation of Microsoft’s BizSpark programme — a global initiative designed by Microsoft to encourage startup successes by providing end-to-end software solutions with no upfront costs.

Azli Jamil, general manager of local software innovations at Microsoft Malaysia, said Capital2Spark is a programme specifically for Malaysian technopreneurs.

“We’re taking things to the next level, everything from providing the right software to guiding local startups towards success,” he said during a press conference at the launch of the programme here.

Cradle chief executive officer Nazrin Hassan said the partnership with Microsoft will help unearth more Malaysian-made technologies.

“It will promote talent discovery and maybe we’ll discover more technoprenuers with products and services for the world market,” he said.

Through the partnership, Microsoft will recommend startups under its BizSpark programme to Cradle. The selected businesses will be eligible for capital injections under Cradle’s technology commercialisation funding programme, CIP 500, which provides up to RM500,000 per startup.

Microsoft will also identify and refer technopreneurs at the ideas stage for consideration for the CIP catalyst programme, which offers funding of up to RM150,000 for prototype development.

To date, there are about 250 Malaysian startups that have signed on for BizSpark since it was introduced in 2008.

According to Peter Tam, director of Microsoft Malaysia’s local software innovations division, a business has a high chance of being selected if it has a sound product and is able to articulate the value proposition.

“There’s nothing scientific about the selection process. Sometimes its a gut feeling that we know what will work,” he said.

Help aplenty

Ellynita Hazlina Lami, Cradle’s senior manager of strategy and initiatives, said the programme is another way of helping technopreneurs commercialise their products and services, as well as helping them brave competitive markets.

“Malaysian technoprenuers are not short of technology talents but they are weak on the business side of things. Through Capital2Spark, we will also be able to offer some guidance and support, besides just giving out (software) tools,” she said.

Microsoft aims to recommend 10 startups to Cradle for consideration over the next two years.

Ellynita said that if the companies are accepted for Cradle’s funding programmes, Cradle will monitor their performances and guide them along the way.

The announcements were much appreciated by representatives of several startups at the event.

Nazri Hussein, chief executive officer of Altriz Technology Sdn Bhd, and Jon Wee Abdullah, chief executive officer of Wicked Networks, said they valued the helping hand extended by Microsoft and Cradle.

“It will help us and other startups overcome the many problems we encounter when trying to commercialise a product or service. This guidance is more valuable than free software,” Wee said.

Nazri said the programme would enable startups to access Microsoft’s and Cradle’s network of partners, which will help them bring their products and services to the next level.

“However, such a programme can only take you so far. Individuals will still need to be confident and visionary in order to succeed,” he added. Altriz Technology is doing intensive research and development of the Altriz Naval Training Simulator while Wicked Networks is an Internet Protocol TV service provider.

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