Microsoft Offers Grants for Student Startups

Randy Guthrie – Microsoft Technical Evangelist

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup technology competition has some new twists this year that should appeal to more students than ever before.  Student entrepreneurs especially should check out the US app accelerator opportunity.  For those students who have a serious interest in starting a business, the United States Imagine Cup competition has an early “accelerator” program to jump start their app project and give them the resources to start a business based on their app, as well as have a head-start on a competitive entry in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition. 

The initial grant will be an invitation to the top 20 teams to participate in an app accelerator program that includes a 1-week boot camp in the Silicon Valley and access to learning resources and live technical support for their app. The teams will be selected based on quality of the idea, student resumes, past experiences, and likelihood of making a great app, as opposed to the typical competition where the app itself is judged and prior time spent completing the app takes precedence over the overall potential of the idea. After the Accelerator, participants may either start their business immediately or continue on in the Imagine Cup competition where the top finishers can apply for up to $100K in grant funding.

The application for the US Student Accelerator program is a simple form that can be filled out in under an hour. Other than optional screen shots and other supporting documents, no other deliverables are required at this stage of the competition.

To get started, students should create an account at  NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU SET THE REGION TO “UNITED STATES” in the upper right corner.  Once you have created an account, then the links to apply for the App Accelerator program be available.