Microsoft has launched Bing Fund, an angel fund with an incubator program that will make Microsoft resources available to startups and potentially provide it with acquisition targets in the future, Microsoft said in a blog post.
Bing Fund is an angel fund for startups "building online or mobile experiences." Eligible startups must be mature enough to have a business plan and a working prototype of their product, according to Microsoft. They must also have "momentum."
"We believe that combining the creativity and fresh insights of startups with Microsoft's expertise and tremendous reach creates a unique formula for driving the industry forward," Microsoft said.
The company said the fund was an opportunity for it to develop relationships with "new companies that we could potentially partner with and/or acquire."
The Bing Fund incubator program will host a "small number" of companies at once, each for at least a four-month period, Microsoft said. The company said it would work with accelerator programs to find candidates for Bing Fund.
The software giant promises to deliver personal attention from its staff, privileged access to some of its products and introductions to investors. Participating companies will enjoy subsidized use of Bing APIs (application programming interfaces), access to some technology developed by its research department and the option to work out of the company's Bellevue, Washington, offices, for example.
Startups do not have to use Windows Azure infrastructure to be eligible. Microsoft's existing incubator program, BizSpark, does require the use of Azure.
Cameron Scott covers search, web services and privacy for The IDG News Service. Follow Cameron on Twitter at CScott_IDG.