Microsoft has launched its second Australian Innovation Centre, with the South Australian centre aiming to graduate more than 40 startups, provide training to at least 250 people and create at least 80 jobs over the next 18 months.
MICSA will host regular training events, workshops, and a regular speaker series. It will also offer startups meeting rooms and facilities, industry connections, software and cloud credits through its BizSpark and BizSpark Plus programs
The establishment of MICSA comes after Microsoft launched its Queensland Microsoft Innovation Centre in May 2012. Microsoft also runs the BizSpark Plus program, which offers startups access Microsoft Windows Azure services over two years, along with other tools and software.
Microsoft Australia state director Brian Kealey told StartupSmart South Australia is uniquely positioned in terms of government, academic and industry backing that will allow the program to work.
“The tech startup sector is a critical part of the economy going forward, and we see it as our role to help foster that. We make this investment to grow the economy, but won’t take an equity position or force the startups to sign anything. That said, if startups need access to equity, we can help to make those connections,” Kealey says.
MICSA adds to a booming Adelaide tech startup scene that already includes the Majoran Distillery, the Innovyz program and Simon Hackett’s Base64. According to Kealy, MICSA is designed to add to the existing SA ecosystem, rather than compete against it.
“We built a foundation group and run a month scrum to get feedback and see if this is definitely going to help with growth… We have, over the past six to 12 months, worked with Hills Innovation, Hub Adelaide, Majoran and a range of other partners. So, for example, we use Majoran as a co-working space if they need help with co-working,” Kealey says.
According to Kealey, MICSA intends to offer its services both in a programmatic and a-la-carte fashion. Also, participation is not limited strictly to startups working with Microsoft platforms or technologies.
“We reach out to startups through social media, coworking spaces and various other channels. That said, 90% of the startups bring their idea to a competition, coworking space or program and get referred to us for training to become part of MICSA,” he says.
“We can provide startups with access to our technology through our BizSpark programs, and [the Microsoft] Azure [cloud platform] certainly will support PHP, MySQL, Linux and a range of other open web technologies. That said, we can do a lot more, like training connections and development, regardless of their tech choices.
Five foundational members of MICSA include:
- myEvidence: Allows law enforcement officers to capture crime scene information digitally.
- Makers Empire: 3D printing software developed specifically for primary schools and tested extensively by classroom teachers and students.
- Lend A Skilled Hand (LASH): A social enterprise that connects skilled volunteers with local and international community projects in need of their expertise.
- Codies: An interactive learning platform that uses Kinect for Windows Devices and in 2014 developed its first education motion sensing application.
- Jemsoft: Developers of a world-leading intelligent access control system called Portcullis.