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Last November, we helped Microsoft launch the Microsoft Accelerator, powered by Techstars. The first area of focus has been on Kinect and a few weeks ago I was in Seattle to help kick it off. Dave Malcolm is the Managing Director of the Microsoft Accelerator in Seattle, and with Andy Sack’s help he did a great job helping to select 11 companies to fund from over 500 companies that applied. You might naturally expect that these companies are focused on gaming, but the vast majority are not. You can get a preview of the companies here, in advance of their demo day which is happening in in late June. They’re an amazing group and it’s been interesting and fun to work on these companies as they explore new human computer interaction paradigms using motion sensing and/or voice control (Kinect is available both on XBOX and on Windows, so the possibilities are limitless).  The Microsoft Accelerator for Kinect is already underway and we couldn’t be more thrilled about how this first cycle has gone so far.

Apparently, neither could Microsoft! Today, Microsoft has announced a second cycle to the Microsoft Accelerator, powered by Techstars. Starting this fall, the Microsoft Accelerator will kick off a new program for companies using Windows Azure to build amazing cloud based applications. If you haven’t been paying attention, Windows Azure has come quite a long way as an open and flexible cloud platform for startups. It doesn’t hurt that Microsoft is tossing in $60,000 in platform credit either. Going forward, the Microsoft Accelerator will have both Kinect and Windows Azure focused cycles annually. You can see the full schedule and details on Microsoft’s web site.

Applications for the Microsoft Accelerator are open now for the Windows Azure cycle which starts in August. Funded companies will get a $20,000 investment from Techstars, and support from amazing mentors. What are you waiting for?  Go check it out!

Microsoft Accelerator on Facebook

David Cohen
(@davidcohen) Founder & Managing Partner of Techstars, previously founder of several technology companies. David is an active startup advocate, advisor, board member, and technology advisor who comments on these topics on his blog at DavidGCohen.com