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.