Microsoft has been a leading force in the development of artificial intelligence. The company says AI has the potential to transform how we live, from day-to-day tasks to industries. To reflect its ambition, Microsoft Ventures has announced a global competition to spur AI development.
In its announcement, the company says it wants AI to be accessible. Reaching out to innovators and incentivizing them to create could open doors. Called the AI for Good Prize, the competition is opening today.
The competition is asking global start-ups to build transformative technologies that are based on artificial intelligence. Microsoft Ventures has set up a $1 million prize fund in collaboration with venture capital partners.
“At Microsoft, we believe AI has the power to transform our world. By building and leveraging powerful platforms like Microsoft Cognitive Services, we can amplify human ingenuity in ways we never could have imagined: changing how we work, play and live. Our approach to AI isn’t just limited to our products, but also how we participate in the broader community.”
Additionally, there is $500,000 in Azure credits. Microsoft says one winning finalist will be awarded $500,000 in venture funding and the Azure credits haul. This would effectively offer a solid base to get their idea off the ground.
Winners will be selected from three regions, Europe, North America, and Israel. Alongside the global winner, that makes four total winners and the standout finalist.
To select the winners, Microsoft will host live pitch-off competitions in each region, with 10 participating finalists. These will be held during spring, 2018 and ideas will be judged by a panel of experts from Microsoft Ventures and VC partners.
Microsoft has opened submissions now and the window for participants will run between now and the end of the calendar year.
Microsoft Ventures was launched in May. In fact, Ventures is a rebranded Microsoft division that now focuses on small-scale investments. It used to be a start-up accelerator, but is now a venture capital wing.
When announced, Microsoft admitted that it has not focused enough on investments in start-ups. Since Microsoft Ventures was changed, the company has invested in dozens of small businesses.