Microsoft and TechStars unveil $20k Kinect Accelerator


Microsoft has teamed up with US seed fund TechStars to create the Kinect Accelerator, a scheme where start-ups receive $20,000 to develop technologies for Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing system.


The partnership will see 10 start-ups chosen to participate in a three-month incubation program at Microsoft, in addition to $20,000 in seed funding. It will run from March to May in 2012.


In exchange, TechStars will take a 6% stake in each of the start-ups. The goal of the program is to create businesses that leverage Kinect for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Microsoft Windows.


TechStars founder and chief executive David Cohen says the accelerator, based in Seattle, is focused on helping start-ups build “the next generation of innovative experiences for the Kinect”.


“TechStars is helping Microsoft to create and operate the program using what we’ve learned from accelerating over a hundred internet start-ups ourselves,” Cohen wrote in a blog.


“We couldn’t be more excited about where Kinect is heading and the chance to work with some amazing start-ups that are taking advantage of it.”


Mentors for the accelerator include entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the industry, as well as executives from organisations such as Microsoft Studios, Microsoft Research and Xbox.


“Every company participating… will receive an investment of $20,000, an Xbox development kit, the Windows Kinect SDK [and] office space,” Microsoft said in a statement.


They also receive “all the resources of [Microsoft] BizSpark, technical training and support”.


At the end of the program, each company will have the opportunity to present at an investor demo day attended by angel investors, venture capitalists, Microsoft executives and media.


“Your company does not necessarily need experience developing with Kinect, but the business concept does need to leverage Kinect capabilities as part of the final offering,” Microsoft says.


“Your team must also be willing to develop the technical skills required to bring your solution to a functioning prototype.”


Microsoft has provided an outline of the eligibility criteria:


  • Any Kinect-enabled application on Windows or Xbox that can be a commercial business.
  • Can be cloud-hosted, on any platform, but needs to be an application.
  • Could be one view of an application that may also have a web UI, mobile UI, etc.
  • Kinect-controlled applications, like what consumers have on their phone, but on a big screen or a computer screen.
  • Content one might expect to consume in their living room or in an operating room.