Microsoft to distribute $10 million among 100 Russian startups over 10 years

Microsoft is ready to invest some $10 million into 100 Russian startup companies over a 10-year period, the president of Microsoft Russia Nikolya Pryanishnikov told RBC, a Russian news agency yesterday. “Our experience is that investment into a single startup should total between $50,000 and $500,000 with an average of $100,000,” Pryanishnikov explained. According to Pryanishnikov, the investment program would be a social initiative intended to develop entrepreneurship in Russia.

The Microsoft seed investment program was announced in November 2010 by the firm’s CEO Steve Ballmer during his visit to Skolkovo, the state-supported innovation hub under construction near Moscow. To date the Microsoft seed fund has reviewed 150 “quality proposals” and has selected 14 target projects.

In April, the fund awarded its first two grants, one to Pirate Pay, a startup from Perm, and one to Ajatix, a startup from Volgograd. Pirate Pay has so far received the largest sum – $100,000 – for developing a solution to block illegal video, music and software downloads from bit torrent networks. A few weeks later, the startup was included on the Red Herring Top 100 Europe listing for innovative firms this year.

Last week the fund awarded another three grants totaling $230,000, RIA Novosti reported. Two of the startups received $80,000 each for their respective projects, one for a location-based planning application for smartphones, ePythia, and the other for a social network monitoring tool, Wobot. A third team received $70,000 for its work on an e-learning tool, ColorPen.

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