Microsoft launches UK startup fund

Microsoft chief exec Steve Ballmer’s was in London today to announce a new startup fund for the UK called the Microsoft Startup Accelerator Programme. The programme, which already exists in the US, is to encourage startups and in doing so to also promote Microsoft technologies to them such as Silverlight and Live Services. There are a handful of UK firms kicking it off, including Skinkers, Tao, ClusterSeven, ViaPost and mydeo.

Ballmer announced the news at “The Online Opportunity”, a (barely promoted) half day session which looked at industry issues and challenges facing internet start-ups in the UK, and which featured such dotcom celebs as Brent Hoberman (lastminute), Saul Klein (Index Ventures / Seedcamp), Cary Marsh (mydeo), Ben Way (Making Rain / ViaPost) and Ryan Carson (Future of Web Apps).

The Accelerator Programme is being headed up by Lars Lindstedt, who runs the UK Software Economy and Emerging Business programmes at Microsoft.