Deshpande Foundation and Microsoft Ventures to launch Sandbox Startups

Deshpande Foundation and Microsoft Ventures in India announced a partnership to launch Sandbox Startups, an incubator focused on nurturing startups in tier two and three cities of India.

The three-year collaboration was formalized with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in the presence of Dr Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, founder, Deshpande Foundation; Jairam Ramesh, former minister, government of India; Rajinish Menon, director, Microsoft Ventures India; Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation; and Phanindra Sama, CEO, Redbus.in.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion of the launch, Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation said, “Sandbox Startups is aimed at providing a launch pad for aspiring entrepreneurs in tier two and three cities so that they can validate their business ideas, sharpen  business acumen, develop products and launch solutions to the market. Innovations by startups groomed under the program will add vibrancy to the ecosystem from those at the bottom of the pyramid.”

“The objective of this partnership is to work in an inclusive manner to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, such as early stage entrepreneurs, academia, students, the venture capital community, mentors, advisors, high-net-worth individuals and corporates, are active participants in the innovation ecosystem,” added Jha.

Rajinish Menon, director, Microsoft Ventures India said, “Our partnership with Deshpande Foundation aims to engage with entrepreneurs from smaller towns at every stage of their journey from ideation to maturity. At Microsoft, we are extremely excited to help incubators roll out products and raise capital to fund their growth, eventually benefiting India’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Deshpande Foundation in India actively nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship through various programs in its three sandbox regions – North Karnataka, Nizamabad in Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

Partnering with Microsoft Ventures is a key step to support and nurture incubators, moving them to the next level by providing them an opportunity to get exposed to high end technology, get trained and mentored by professionals. Both Microsoft Ventures and Deshpande Foundation will play a significant role to mentor the startups under this incubator.

Imparting relevant skills is also essential for the students and entrepreneurs to succeed. Through this partnership, Deshpande Foundation is also launching a new skill development program to ensure that the students and entrepreneurs have access to cutting edge technology training.

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