Dec 11, 2017 | Shelley McKinley - General Manager, Technology and Corporate Responsibility
Internet connectivity is an increasingly critical part of accessing a better education, jobs and health care, and in participating in the 21st century economy. Yet, with more than half of the world’s population lacking internet connectivity, often in rural and other underserved communities, there is still a long road ahead of us.
That’s why we’re pleased to announce that today Microsoft has opened its third annual call for applications to the Microsoft Airband Grant Fund. The grant fund seeks to spark innovation to overcome barriers to affordable internet access, through supporting high-potential, early-stage startups creating innovative new technologies, services and business models. Grantees receive cash investments, access to technology, business development support, mentoring and great networking opportunities. This year we’re taking a keen interest in solutions enabling key verticals such as agriculture, education, healthcare and small business.
The grant fund is an integral part of Microsoft’s Airband initiative, which aims to extend broadband access across the United States and, ultimately, connectivity around the globe. To that end, we are collaborating with internet access and off-grid energy access providers, as well as other private and public-sector entities, on practical, high-impact and scalable approaches to help close the digital divide. The grant fund complements, and feeds into these efforts, as we know that innovation happens at every level, from the largest corporations to an early stage startup with an idea.
Illustration Photo: Apitronics is an open platform for farm data collection. Suited to the outdoors, the system of connected sensors helps farmers monitor environmental conditions, which allows them to make more informed management decisions. Inspired by natural systems, Apitronics describes their sensors as “bees” that direct information to a centralized “hive.” (credits: Engineering for Change / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))