Entrepreneurs who seek to expand Internet access across the world with new technologies are being awarded grants by Microsoft through the Affordable Access Initiative.
These grants have been awarded to startups which focus on technology and how it can be harnessed to improve Internet access to the communities living in remote areas.
In this new round of funding, 12 businesses from 11 countries have been acknowledged by Microsoft; the winners were announced on Tuesday.
According to the tech company, the Affordable Access Initiative aims to “democratize access to the Internet through grants, commercial partnerships, connecting new leaders and community engagement.”
In terms of criteria for grant qualification, Microsoft said it was searching for innovative technology that can harness resources like unused broadcasting frequencies to increase Internet connectivity; companies could also come up with sustainable solutions and scalable business plans.
The businesses that were awarded a grant are from different countries across the world. More than giving them financial support, Microsoft promises to offer annual virtual conferences, peer and mentor programs, and the firm’s own R&D team available on call.
“To further empower people and organization in communities benefitting from the Affordable Access Initiative, Microsoft Philanthropies will make digital literacy, online safety, and computer science education programs available through its global YouthSpark initiative, as well as cloud product donations and training for nonprofits,” was one of the statements Microsoft recently gave.
African Renewable Energy Distributor from Rwanda is among the recipients of the Affordable Access Initiative, along with other power solutions companies like India’s Zaya Learning Labs, New Sun Road from Uganda, and a number of connectivity solutions firms from India, Malawi, the US, Nigeria and the Philippines.
Furthermore, Microsoft has also invested in four application solutions companies, the UK’s Movivo, Kelase from Indonesia, VistaBotswana, and Argentina’s Tambero.com.
More than half of the world’s population has yet to come online, which makes connectivity a global challenge that Microsoft is trying to address with creative problem solving.
Other tech giants like Facebook – with its Free Basics initiative – and Google’s Project Loon are also looking at ways to expand Internet availability.
Google’s take on the challenge is particularly novel as the company wants to eventually release balloons which will serve as extenders for broadband penetration.
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