Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub now offers Azure AI Infrastructure for free.
- Microsoft wants startups to overcome cost barriers and hasten their development.
- The program offers credits worth thousands of dollars of Azure usage per month.
On November 7th, Microsoft updated its startup program to offer free access to high-performance Nvidia-based Azure AI infrastructure.
In their blog post, the company explained how this is an expansion of the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub. It will provide select startups with access to GPU-powered virtual machine clusters that are optimal for AI workload. We’re talking about graphic processing units (GPUs) capable of handling computationally intensive tasks, including natural language processing.
Microsoft’s goal is to help promising startups overcome infrastructure cost barriers and accelerate their AI development. In fact, the startups that the program accepts will receive time-bound credits equivalent to thousands of dollars of Azure usage per month.
However, these credits are only applicable to AI workloads. Nonetheless, small companies can experiment, test, and refine their AI models to their hearts’ content during the critical initial development stages when resources are scarce.
To that end, the Big Tech giant partnered with startup accelerator Y Combinator (YC). YC’s current winter cohort and alumni focused on AI will gain private preview access to the clusters.
Michael Seibel, Managing Director of Y Combinator, said “With the overwhelming infrastructure requirements needed to do AI at scale, we believe that providing startups with high-performance capabilities tailored for demanding AI workloads will empower our startups to ship faster.”
In the long run, the plan is to expand access to the Azure AI infrastructure through partnerships with additional startup accelerators and venture capital firms. The end goal is to provide the same opportunities to any early-stage AI startup.
Combine this with Google’s current legal nightmare, and it becomes another step to further dethrone Google and cement Azure as the go-to cloud for AI workloads.
While other cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud offer similar programs, Microsoft’s remove cost barriers. And we all know how much of a hurdle funding is. Yes, the competition is still there but Microsoft’s offer is more tempting. After all, armed with great ambition, talent, and a whole lot of coffee, startups want to work on their project without going bankrupt before the product even hits the shelves.
However, that’s not all there’s to it. We all saw what a tech revolution the release of ChatGPT triggered. Something short of a mania. Microsoft pounced on it almost immediately. YC’s track record of incubating early-stage startups gives Microsoft unique access to the next “OpenAI.” Imagine what they could do if they had the first stab at a “partnership” from behind the scenes.
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