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Microsoft Chooses Israel for ‘Cloud’ Accelerator

Microsoft is “up in the clouds” over Israel. The firm’s first-ever startup accelerator aims at developing the cloud-based Windows Azure.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/18/2012, 11:30 AM

Mobile phone user and a 'cloud'
Mobile phone user and a 'cloud'
Reuters

Microsoft is “up in the clouds” over Israel, which has been chosen for its first-ever startup accelerator. It wants to encourage the use of cloud-based applications using Windows Azure, TechCrunch.com reported.

Microsoft Israel Research and Development Center at Herzliya will develop the program to encourage companies to use cloud-based setups. The “cloud” concept allows an individual or company to provide information without having to rely on software programs.

Companies that use the cloud concept in the Microsoft Israel program will have free access to Azure.

Microsoft chose Israel for its first startup accelerator because of Herzliya’s importance in the company. The new program is part of the company’s efforts to advance in startups, according to Microsoft Israel executive Zack Weisfeld.

Israel hosts 4,900 startups, he said, and the country is the third largest venture capital spender in the world, behind only Silicon Valley and New England, he told TechCrunch.

“Because we have such an innovation-driven and startup-driven R&D center, we basically came with a proposal to basically change the way Microsoft deals with entrepreneurs,” Weisfeld explained. “Part of that proposal was to start, for the first time in the world for Microsoft, our own startup accelerator.

“We believe that for the Israel R&D center, it’s going to make the center much better. We’re going to have fast-moving, agile startups that want to change the world working closely with our engineers.”

Microsoft is involved in other accelerators, but the Israeli venture is the first time it is running one with its own employees.