The effort is the first of its kind in Finland and hopes to collect more corporate sponsors before opening in early 2017
Microsoft’s General Manager in Finland announced Tuesday night that the company would establish an IoT foundation in the country, called IoT Paja — the first of its kind — with an investment of $14 million.
“The foundation will help startups to develop a first IoT solution prototype,” Microsoft’s General Manager of Finland Pekka Horo told the crowd. They will have the “opportunity to cross that first hurdle, get that prototype, and get funding from external investors.”
Paja (pronounced ‘payya’) is Finnish for “forged,” and implies this will let Finland’s sophisticated IoT and hardware scene to forge ahead, Horo explained to a pre-event party ahead of Slush, Finland’s annual technology festival and arguably the largest such event in Europe.
Their headquarters will be in Espoo, just across the river from Helsinki and home to many of the city’s established companies, Finnish headquarters of international conglomerates, and numerous startups.
They want the project off the ground by the end of March 2017. Over the next six months, they will seek out other corporate partners to build on that initial $14 million.
Horo told Geektime shortly after the announcement that there was no quota or limit to the number of IoT startups who would be able to get grants from the foundation. As a foundation, the money doesn’t come with conditional exchange of equity.
When asked if the goal of the foundation was to develop open source solutions, Horo explained to Geektime that grantees may “do whatever they want” with what they create, but they would indeed get access to Microsoft’s Azure platform to help build out their prototypes.
“I want to highlight that we want this to operate independently of Microsoft,” saying a full staff and a CEO would be hired to run it.