The Microsoft R&D Center in Israel, through the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, has launched a cooperative effort with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Technion. This cooperation is the first attempt in the world, out of Georgia Tech’s accelerator – Flashpoint – to boost success of startups in an accelerator program using scientific tools as an integral part of the accelerator.
Georgia Tech, one of the leading academic institutions in the US, opened its Flashpoint startup accelerator in late 2011, with the first class of startups graduating earlier this year. For the first time, this group of startups implemented a new model known as Startup Engineering, developed by the accelerator director and Georgia Tech College of Computing professor Merrick Furst, which offers processes designed to increase the success of startups. The Startup Engineering methodology implements scientific methodology to engineer the creation of business models to establish greater market opportunities for startups. This model has offered an outstanding early success rate of 14 out of 15 (93%). The teams have raised a collective $8 million from angels and venture capitalists within six months of participation.
As part of the cooperation, for the first implementation of Startup Engineering out of Georgia Tech, they will be sending Professor Furst to Israel to take an active part in the Microsoft Accelerator. The model will be implemented in Microsoft’s second group of accelerator participants, which will start in December and which is now accepting applicants. Lecturers from the Technion and Technion entrepreneurship and innovation researchers will also be active participants in further developing and implementing the Startup Engineering model for startups entering the market.
Additional anticipated aspects of the cooperation will include having some of the Microsoft Accelerator participants (with expectations to include 1-2 Technion teams) spending up to a month in Georgia, and startups from Flashpoint spending a month in the Israeli accelerator. It is planned that Professor Furst will be leading a series of lectures on the topic for students at the Technion in Haifa. The three organizations are taking active part in the Startup Engineering initiative and will be researching and publishing data and findings resulting from the cooperation
According to the General Manager of Microsoft Israel R&D Center, Yoram Yaacovi, “Startups participating in the Microsoft Accelerator for Window Azure have the unparalleled opportunity to leverage the knowledge, experience and resources of these three great technology brands – Microsoft, Georgia Tech and the Technion. Such a collaboration further positions the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure as one of the top programs of its kind globally. Combining industry and academia, practice and theory, as done by the Georgia Institute of Technology shows that implementation of scientific tools is effective and has a major contribution towards success. As we are wrapping up the first class of the accelerator and starting the second, we are aiming towards this innovative model as an additional component that brings value to Israeli startups. Together with the Technion and Georgia Tech, we will continue to improve and deepen this model for a potential deployment in Israeli industry and for entrepreneurs worldwide. “
Professor Merrick Furst from Georgia Tech adds, “Once you get your head around the notion that we now know something different about making a startup more successful and less likely to fail, it’s not possible to go back to ‘engineering’ them the traditional way, which creates so many large funding craters. The methods apply whether you are a serial entrepreneur who sold his last startup for $612 million, as we have in the current batch of founders, or a first-time founder.”
Professor Aharon Ben-Tal , dean of Technion’s faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management concludes, “the Technion has an extensive program in educating, researching and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation. Noble laureate Dan Schechtman started the first Technion course in technology entrepreneurships many years ago; presently seventeen courses are offered across the Technion including an undergraduate minor in Entrepreneurship starting this fall. The cooperation with Georiga Tech and Microsoft offers a great opportunity to jointly develop and apply engineering principles and methodologies to technology entrepreneurship.“
The Microsoft Israel R&D Center is also opening up its second class for the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure. Entrepreneurs from any country are welcome to apply.