Microsoft puts money where Azure startup opportunity is

Miya Knights News
15 Feb, 2012

Business development agency partnership offers startups £40,000-worth of cloud hosting

Microsoft has announced it is extending its Windows Azure cloud services offer to SETsquared startups.

The offer of $60,000 (£33,173) worth of free cloud hosting over two years has been extended through the establishment of SETsquared as a BizSpark Plus network partner.

SETsquared is the branded enterprise incubation partnership between the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, funded by the government and responsible for four ‘business acceleration’ centres located at each institution.

Nick Sturge, centre director for SETsquared Bristol, told Virtual Clouds the organisation had been a BizSpark partner for three year to offer its startup members access to Microsoft’s development platform.

But, he added, the recent addition of the ‘Plus’ designation and its accompanying Azure offer was evidence of how important cloud had now become.

"In only the last two weeks for example, two groups working in computational engineering with new business ideas that require access to high-performance computing resource,” Sturge said.

“They need cloud computing in order to provide prospective customers with services that, without cloud access, they probably wouldn’t be able to afford. Cloud is being seen more and more as a business enabler.”

The Azure offer will allow startups supported by the SETsquared business acceleration centres to develop web-based services, or take advantage of cloud-based resources to meet compute intensive requirements.

And, as BizSpark Plus Network Partner, SETsquared can extend Microsoft’s offer to its member companies, as well as subsequent “high-value offers” Microsoft said it will also make available in future.

Sturge added that SETsquared was particularly pleased to be chosen as one of only four or five initial BizSpark Plus partners. This, he said was testament to the fact that, out of all the companies it has supported since 2007, none of those that subsequently received equity investment has failed.

Cliff Reeves, a general manager in Microsoft’s strategic and emerging business team, stated that by working with partners such as SETsquared, startups can get access to Microsoft’s “best technology” and “join the vibrant BizSpark ecosystem of entrepreneurs and partner organisations advancing software-fuelled entrepreneurship”.

One such SETsquared member that has already benefited from the Microsoft tie-up is DocCom, which has created a secure networking platform for healthcare professionals and their organisations. While based at SETsquared’s Bristol centre, DocCom originally used Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform as part of the BizSpark programme.

Dr Jonathon Shaw, director and co-founder at DocCom said the company needed IT resource that would scale fast to cope with predicted growth, run reliably 24 hours a day and enable access via any device from anywhere.

“Azure is the most advanced cloud computing platform out there, and has been a great choice for us – it offers clever technology, allows us to scale, and makes it easy to deploy and update apps,” stated Shaw.


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