Microsoft opens new accelerator for home automation start-ups


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gestures as he speaks at the company's "build" conference in San Francisco in this file photo taken April 2, 2014. Microsoft Corp's new Chief Executive Satya Nadella likes to boast that Bing is growing and powers 30 percent of the Internet search market, making it a worthy competitor to Google Inc. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS) (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Microsoft is opening a new business accelerator in Seattle for start-ups focused on home automation, a field including appliances that learn a user’s preferences, or software that might help a user control objects from their smartphones, for instance.

In partnership with auto insurance company American Family Insurance, Microsoft plans to select a handful of start-ups and provide them with mentorship, a temporary workspace, and access to software, among other services.

The American Family Insurance is also offering an optional $25,000 equity investment to each start-up accepted into the program.

A report from CB Insights, a New York-based venture capital firm, suggested that start-ups creating technology for home automation attracted $468 million in venture capital between 2012 and the end of 2013.

“Home automation is ripe for start-up innovation,” said Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of developer experience, in a statement.

The company currently operates start-up accelerators — intended to grow small companies — in Bangalore, Beijing, Berlin, London, Paris and Tel Aviv. The new accelerator will run September through December, and interested start-ups can apply now.

Mohana Ravindranath covers IT and small business for the Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication.
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