Incubation and accelerator programmes by global tech giants for Indian startups

Big companies have recognised the potential of working with startups - be it for innovation or attracting talent. YourStory curates a list of accelerator programmes organised by top tech giants to promote startups

In a Facebook Live session in 2017, Mark Zuckerberg was asked why and how he is so successful. His reply was as candid as can be - “You don’t get to be successful like this just by being hard working or having a good idea.” 

“You have to get lucky in today’s society in order for that to happen. And that, I think, is a huge issue.” He continued to say that he wants everyone to have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial. 

Ask any entrepreneur and they would easily tell you - mentorship and coaching in the early days of launching a startup play a huge role in helping you get that jumpstart. As a startup, no help is too small, and a mentor who asks a lot of tough questions in the beginning is only making sure you don’t end up answering too many wrong ones later! 

Startup incubators or accelerators also provide a solid headstart to get off the ground. These collaborative cohort-based programmes offer access to expert advice, peer groups, and educational components. In simple words, they help new companies build their business. 

Big companies have recognised the potential of working with startups - be it for innovation or attracting talent. And one way they support the ecosystem is by running their own incubation programmes. 

YourStory has curated a list of accelerator programmers organised by top tech giants to promote startups. Here’s a quick look at what they offer - 

WhatsApp Incubator Programme

In December 2021, WhatsApp announced an incubator programme for organisations to build solutions for healthcare issues.

"The programme aims to identify 10 selected organisations tackling critical health issues. They will be guided through a design thinking-led process to build a deeper understanding and applicability of their WhatsApp-powered solution," WhatsApp said in an official statement.

The programme allows registrations for NGOs, startups, entrepreneurs, and other organsations that have innovative ideas to solve issues of general immunisation, maternal health, and mental health among others. Through the incubator programme, organisations will be provided with technical support in order to prototype, design, and pilot their health use cases.

PayPal Incubator program

Founded in 2013, the PayPal Incubator program in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) offers a conducive, innovative and nurturing environment for early-stage startups to grow at PayPal’s Technology Centre in Chennai, with access to technology mentors, business, investors and subject matter experts.

The programme aims to make an impact and support the creation of the next generation of fintech startups in India.

Startups which are democratising access to financial services, who have raised or are about to raise their first round of funding, and startups with a minimum viable product (MVP) and early tractions are eligible for the 12-month programme.

The eligible startup will be assessed through a three-stage evaluation process. The final decision is made based on the alignment, team, and potential synergy.

Microsoft AI Innovate

Launched in 2021 by tech giant Microsoft, the Microsoft AI Innovate programme is for startups that have been leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) in India.

The programme, supported by TiE Mumbai, enables startups to reach out to newer customers and geographies with the sales and partner networks of Microsoft. 

The 10-week programme focuses on providing tech business opportunities to improve their solutions, build responsibility, and transform organisations to make Artificial Intelligence accessible to everyone.

The startups can be from across industries such as financial services, agriculture, education, manufacturing, logistics, space, and healthcare, among others. In its eligibility criteria, it said startups need to have been in existence for not more than seven years, should have less than $25 million in total annual revenue, seed, Series A, B, or C stage funded, and offer an innovative technical solution that supports customers in their digital transformation.

Facebook India Innovation Accelerator

Started by Facebook in 2019, the India Innovation Accelerator was launched to focus on AI startups in India to create social impact.

It runs in partnership with T-Hub in India, and aims to support a cohort of AI startups that have an outsized social impact potential and focus on building technology to solve complex social problems in the domains of healthcare, climate change, empowerment of Women and Girls, agriculture, resilient cities, etc.

Satyajeet Singh, Head of Platform Partnerships, Facebook India and South Asia, says, “At Facebook, we are committed to investing in the future of India’s digital economy. We know from experience how fast great ideas can thrive when startups are given the opportunity to grow and learn from each other.” 

The initiative is a tech-centric accelerator, which will work with 10 VR-focused startups to accelerate their business in new and innovative ways.

Launchpad Accelerator India

Started by Google in 2018, the Launchpad Accelerator India focuses on supporting startups that are innovating to solve meaningful challenges.

The three-month-long incubation programme is meant for high potential seed to Series A Indian startups that are creating India-first products for the world.

Out of 1,000 plus applications, only 20 startups will get selected to receive mentorship support from Google in AI, ML, UX, marketing, cloud, and product strategy.

"These startups will receive three months of mentorship and support from our network of Google and industry mentors. The support ranges from access to Google teams, tech guidance on projects, machine learning related support, UX and design mentorship, leadership workshops, networking opportunities, and PR support," says Paul.

Amazon Propel

Amazon Global Selling Propel Accelerator is a rigorous eight-week program designed to help early-stage startups in the consumer products space to become international brands. Launched in 2016, the selected startups get a chance to win a total equity-free grant of $1,00,000 from Amazon as well as free AWS credits worth $10,000.

“We created the Amazon Global Selling Startup Accelerator with a vision to help take the local expertise and innovation global. We are truly excited about the innovation and passion we have seen and would like to congratulate all the winners. We worked with partners like Invest India, Sequoia Capital India, Fireside Ventures, and others to attract some of the best minds in the country and provide them a springboard to create global consumer brands from India,” Amit Agarwal, Global Senior VP and Country Head, Amazon India, says.
Edited by Anju Narayanan


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