Microsoft to establish IoT foundation and lab in Finland
With exceptional knowledge in hardware and software, Finland’s startup scene is thriving. Although creative and innovative technology is abundant, there’s one trend the community has, so far, struggled to crack. It’s an important one – the Internet of Things (IoT).
There’s no shortage of good ideas in Finland’s IoT scene. But according to Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, there have been obstacles for companies in turning those ideas into reality.
“Nearly all companies founded in recent years in Finland have been software companies,” said Pekka Sivonen, Director, Digitalisation Strategy and Programmes at Tekes, “Because it has been difficult to secure the funding, the equipment for building prototypes, and the experts required to build a physical product.”
Working together with Tekes and the Finnish government, Microsoft has launched a new foundation to help startups overcome these obstacles. Today Microsoft announced the IoT Forge foundation, which will open a dedicated IoT lab in Espoo early next year. The lab will provide hardware expertise and cloud support for IoT startups and small businesses, as well as opportunities for investment. Microsoft will provide the lab with equipment, in addition to a one-time investment of USD 14 million.
“One of the biggest challenges for a startup developing IoT hardware is to turn their idea into a prototype,” said Pekka Horo, General Manager, Microsoft Finland. “The purpose of IoT Forge is to accelerate this process for IoT hardware innovations.”
The IoT Forge lab will provide businesses access to a range of equipment needed for quickly and easily building IoT prototypes, including Azure IoT Starter Kits, 3D printers, and connectivity through Bluetooth, NFC and satellite location devices. Selected startups will be provided with funding to build and test their first prototype at the IoT Forge lab.
For selected companies looking to grow further, the IoT Forge foundation will also offer funding to build their first enterprise-grade IoT solution, as well as support in defining their value proposition, and finding the right manufacturing and funding partners.
“Ultimately, we want to enable digital transformation and the growth of an IoT ecosystem in Finland,” said Horo. “We are excited about the opportunity to accelerate the development and international growth of the strong IoT hardware know-how in Finland.”
IoT Forge is Microsoft’s first initiative celebrating Suomi100, the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence. Once established, the IoT Forge lab will be managed by its own personnel, independent of Microsoft.
Several Finnish and international companies have already been in discussions with Microsoft regarding joining the foundation. Two-three partners are set to be chosen within the next six months. More information on the IoT Forge foundation and lab will be announced once registration has completed.