Case study

Microsoft Ventures starts up in London, supported by UK government

Introductions by UK government have helped Microsoft Ventures establish itself as one of London’s most in-demand tech start-up accelerators.

City of London

This company was assisted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which has since moved to the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Microsoft Ventures programme helps start-ups grow and develop their business. Since opening in London in September, 28 companies have passed through the programme, with 9 in its March 2015 session. These companies attracted £6.6 million in funding prior to joining Ventures.

The programme has graduated over 230 start-ups globally, with 17 of these going on to be purchased by larger companies.

There are now 7 accelerators located in cities around the world including: Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Beijing, London, Paris, Berlin and Seattle.

New prospects

In June 2013, Microsoft Ventures decided to open in the UK, where the government offers many incentives, including:

  • UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)’s guidance and programmes

  • tax relief for investors into start-ups

As the tech hub of Europe, London was particularly attractive.

UKTI support

UKTI put the Microsoft Ventures in touch with Tech City, the publicly funded non-profit that focuses on supporting, growing and advocating for digital businesses. Tech City helped the company better understand the start-up sector in London.

UKTI provided an introduction to The Bakery, one of London’s first tech accelerators, which shared tips for success.

Next, UKTI connected Microsoft Ventures with London & Partners, its regional partner, which helped to find an office. Ventures decided to open at Central Working, a co-working space in Shoreditch that offers start-ups shared offices and the networking opportunities.

UKTI organised an event for the Microsoft Ventures team to introduce their concept to more than 60 leaders in London’s tech industry. The company was able to get valuable feedback about its proposed business structure and make valuable business contacts.

Diane Perlman, Startups Lead, Microsoft UK, said:

UKTI introduced us to the right people, giving us the opportunity to really understand how London accelerators work.

They helped us gain access to organisations like Tech City, which allowed us to make educated decisions before we opened our doors. UKTI was absolutely key in helping us shape what Microsoft Ventures now looks like.

Future plans

Microsoft Ventures is already growing its presence outside London to attract new mentors and start-up applicants from around the world. It is now working to build more formal relationships with other UK-based accelerators and universities.

Diane Perlman, said:

In just 18 months, we have set up in London and run 3 cohorts and a pilot.

Now that we are moving on to the next stage in our development, we plan to continue working closely with UKTI. Their specialists are top notch and always willing to give advice or make introductions. Any company considering setting up in the UK should make UKTI its first port of call.

Microsoft Ventures

This company was assisted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which has since moved to the Department for International Trade (DIT).

Microsoft may be one of the world’s largest technology companies, but its origins were humble. Founded in 1975, it took 5 years for the company to land a contract with IBM, helping it grow and become the global giant that it is today.

Knowing how tough it can be for a start-up to get off the ground, Microsoft launched its Ventures programme in April 2013. The programme features a 12 week mini entrepreneur MBA that aims to help start-ups grow and develop the business.

Fast facts

Companies Microsoft Ventures
Sector Technology
Countries of origin USA
Investment location London
Published 11 June 2015