American multinational technology company, Microsoft Corporation has launched a new fund for startups and other commercial companies interested in providing affordable Internet access to underserved markets across the globe.
This new initiative is part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative, which invests in new last-mile access technologies, cloud-based services and business models that can reduce the cost of Internet access and help more people affordably get online.
In a statement by the company’s executive vice president of business development, Peggy Johnson, the fund will kick start the entrepreneurial process by identifying promising ideas that it can help nurture, grow and scale.
Peggy said: “Today, there are approximately 4 billion people globally without Internet access.
“The ability to close that gap is more achievable than ever with technology that is readily available and affordable in many parts of the world. Through this fund, we hope to kick-start the entrepreneurial process by identifying promising ideas that we can help nurture, grow and scale.
Under the Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft looks to partner with internet service providers and other organizations in the public and private sector. According to the company, a whopping 57 percent of the world is still offline.
In order to be eligible, applicants must be commercial organisations with at least two full-time employees, and have a working prototype and preferably paying customers.
Fund recipients will be given $75,000, free software and services from Microsoft, and will also get the chance to take part in a company programme that will let them connect with other grant recipients and possible investors.
Online submission of applications commenced on Sunday, 15 November, and applicants can submit their proposals until 11:59 pm Pacific Time on 15 January, 2016.