Microsoft is rethinking its strategy when it comes to startup acceleration in Paris. The company is going to focus on artificial intelligence. This will lead to a new program for AI startups at Station F.
Microsoft has had a startup accelerator in the Sentier neighborhood for a few years now. When Station F opens at the end of June, the company is going to focus exclusively on artificial intelligence with a partnership with INRIA and move everything to the startup campus.
“We think that we’re first going to select 5 or 6 startups that can foster an ecosystem around INRIA and themselves,” Microsoft France Developer Experience leader Christophe Shaw told me. “The idea is that we’re eventually going to have a hundred startups in this club.”
And the first startup joining this program is Recast.ai. This French startup has been building a service that helps you build, launch and manage chatbots. The company also takes care of hosting those bots. A few big French companies have been relying on Recast.ai for their bots.
“We’ve been lucky that Microsoft spotted us from the very beginning of Recast,” co-founder and CEO Patrick Joubert told me. “We’ve been using Microsoft Azure to host our service.”
The Recast.ai team is looking forward to working next to other AI people so that they can learn from each other. As part of the program, they’ll also be able to talk with Microsoft experts and INRIA researchers. And the startup hopes that they’ll be able to find new clients by being surrounded with hundreds of companies at Station F.
“We don’t plan to invest or acquire startups through this program,” Shaw said.
Microsoft also plans to help all the other companies at Station F with some developer perks. If you’re working from Station F, you’ll automatically get free credit on Microsoft Azure as part of their plan to help startups.
“Eventually, we want to host one event per day at Station F, from technical presentations to business workshops,” Shaw said. The company is going to have a tiny space to host those events inside Station F. Everyone at Station F will be able to attend those events.