At an event in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin last Thursday night, Microsoft launched BizSpark an initiative designed to help indigenous technology start ups to grow into successful businesses. The programme recognises the unique and significant role that start up companies can play in helping to stimulate and drive an economy and is designed to provide a package of supports which will strengthen their ability to develop innovative technologies and solutions while growing in markets both locally and across the globe.

Companies participating in BizSpark will be given technology support, access to a global ecosystem that can give them an enhanced business advantage and a network of partners to help support their growth and development. BizSpark provides entrepreneurs with fast and easy access to Microsoft software including development tools and server products with no upfront costs, it provides discounts on the purchase of Dell hardware and preferential rates from Internet hosters, enabling companies to get their products and services online faster and more cost effectively. In addition, BizSpark start ups receive professional support from Microsoft as well as community-driven support from a range of Network Partners. Network partners are active organisations in the entrepreneurial space who can provide guidance, mentorship and resources to start ups. BizSpark companies will also have enhanced opportunities to interact with and meet those in the venture capital community who are actively seeking investment opportunities.

KHAZ0443 maxPictured: Paul Rellis, managing director, Microsoft Ireland chatting with Minister Devins and Pat Brazel, CEO of Zignals at the BizSpark launch in Dublin.

Paul Rellis, managing director, Microsoft Ireland said: “I am firmly of the view that indigenous start up companies will play a critical role in driving Ireland’s future economic success and I believe any support we can give them in these difficult economic times will reap rewards in the future. I am confident that the BizSpark programme will help drive innovation, which is the fuel of the economy’s engine. We believe it will give companies the right tools to create and identify opportunities that exist for their products and solutions. At times of an economic downturn it can take significant courage to start up a new business. It is for this reason that I am particularly delighted to be in a position to recognise this courage and commitment of our Irish based entrepreneurs by giving them access to a programme which will help support their ambitions. ”

Cliff Reeves, general manager of Microsoft’s Emerging Business Team said: “Microsoft has a long history working with start ups and we believe that the BizSpark package offers start ups the right combination of software tools, support through a global network of experts and promotion to succeed. We’re committed to helping start ups in Ireland and around the world realise their potential and experience the opportunities made possible through technology.”

KHAZ0395 max Pictured: Pat Brazel, CEO, Zignals with Cliff Evans, general manager of Microsoft’s Emerging Business team and Brian Caufield of Caliban Ventures.

Conor O’Riordan, Chief Executive, Trade Facilitate said: “As the head of a start up, I realise that the value and opportunities that the BizSpark programme will offer to entrepreneurial companies can’t be underestimated. So many entrepreneurs have the ideas, the drive and the will to grow but can lack the essential resources to develop. BizSpark provides those resources, not just through access to development tools but through access to a global network of experts offering companies all the essential elements they require to succeed.”

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Bizspark is based on three essential pillars, which offer young companies and entrepreneurs valuable tools and support.

Software

Start ups will receive fast and easy access to Microsoft’s current full-featured development tools, platform technologies, and production licenses of server products for immediate use in developing and bringing to market innovative and interoperable solutions with no upfront costs and minimal requirements.

Support

Start ups will receive professional support from Microsoft and BizSpark Network Partners around the world who provide a wide range of support resources for software start ups. Network Partners are incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies and hosters who are vested in software-fueled innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, start-ups will have access to discounts on the purchase of Dell hardware, and to a range of internet hosters including Blacknight, C-Infinity, Digiweb, eircom and Hosting365.

Visibility

A dedicated Website, www.microsoftstartupzone.com, will highlight promising companies from around the world every day. Through their relationship with Microsoft and BizSpark Network Partners, start ups will achieve global visibility to an audience of potential investors, clients and partners.

Network Partners from Ireland and Northern Ireland include:

  • Digital Media Forum
  • Irish Internet Association
  • Irish Software Association
  • Momentum NI

BizSpark members can also avail of special offers from: hardware partners such as Dell, training partners such as New Horizons, and hosting providers such as Blacknight, C-Infinity, Digiweb, eircom and Hosting365.

Companies interested in finding out more information on how to join the BizSpark programme should contact www.microsoft.ie/bizspark