Microsoft Ventures, the start-up arm of Microsoft, is opening a new cybersecurity accelerator in Israel in a bid to capitalise on the nation’s expertise in the field.
Israel, sometimes dubbed "The Startup Nation" because it has the highest density of start-ups per capita in the world with one for every 1,844 citizens (or 2.5 times the US rate), has spawned a number of successful security companies, including Cyvera and Fortscale, and it would appear that Microsoft is keen to get to know some of these.
Microsoft said the accelerator, which is being launched in partnership with Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Israel's leading cyber security investor, will help Israeli cybersecurity start-ups create products and services that can address some of the world's most concerning cyber security threats.
Over the course of a four-month program, set to run between September 2014 and December 2015, Microsoft said it will provide between six and eight start-ups with oversight and expertise from industry executives. The US technology giant also said it will give start-ups "free tools" and anything else they might need to help them deliver breakthroughs in cyber technology and services.
Hanan Lavy, director of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, said: “Our accelerator program leverages the Microsoft worldwide footprint to give start-ups unparalleled routes to customers and partners. We use this power to push start-ups to their success. We are eager to work closely with JVP to provide unique opportunities for entrepreneurs in our accelerator".
JVP Cyber Labs, the early stage investment vehicle aimed at identifying, nurturing and building the next wave of cybersecurity and big data companies to emerge from Israel, has pledged to give $1 million to one start-up at the end of the accelerator program, together with a place in its own incubator located in Israel's cybersecurity district, Be'er Sheva.
Yoav Tzruya, partner at JVP Cyber Labs, said: "We put special emphasis on working with strategic partners, such as Microsoft, to get market validation for the significant innovations we are witnessing in the cybersecurity space.
"It is our top priority to create an ecosystem which nurtures entrepreneurs and start-ups independently of our portfolio. We are committed to offering a $1 million investment and a spot in our Be'er Sheva incubator to at least one of the start-ups in this batch of the Microsoft Accelerator to develop their innovation and reach the beta phase."
The program will be run out of the existing Microsoft Accelerator facility in Tel Aviv.
Microsoft announced the accelerator programme in June 2013 and several of the 10 proposed accelerators are already up and running, including Bangalore, Beijing, Paris, Seattle and London, where it is also aiming to spot fintech, retail and future cities start-ups coming out of the Level39 accelerator.
Some 119 companies have already enrolled on the Microsoft Ventures accelerator program and Microsoft claims that the vast majority of them went on to secure funding on the demo day or within six months.