India’s growing presence as a hotbed of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and SaaS startups is drawing the interest of Microsoft, which through its M12 corporate venture fund recently expanded its investment focus in the country.
M12 partner Rashmi Gopinath is heading up the investments in India with an eye toward investing in those startups that can further Microsoft’s position in AI and machine learning, robotics, SaaS, data analytics and Internet of Things. Those are the sectors that are a top focus of Microsoft and M12, the companies said in a press release earlier in January. M12 pointed to India’s technical talent as a reason it wants to invest. “India is a market rich with entrepreneurs creating world-class startups that are poised for success on a global scale. In working with these innovative startups, we believe together we will help disrupt enterprises and industries ripe for digital transformation,” said Nagraj Kashyap, Global head of M12 and Corporate Vice President, Microsoft in the press release announcing the investment focus.
According to M12, venture capital investments in business-to-business technology startups have been on the rise with companies raising $3.09 billion via 415 deals. That is up 28% from the $2.41 billion capital raised in 2017. Startups in India that are being funded are the ones that operate on a global scale, catering to a diverse customer base.
In conjunction with its India investment expansion, M12 announced it invested in Innovaccer, leading a $35 million Series B fundraising round in the healthcare SaaS startup that has offices in India and San Francisco. Other investors in the round include Westbridge and Lightspeed. Innovaccer makes artificial intelligence applications for care management, to reduce burnout on the part of doctors and to engage with patients. It counts Hartford Healthcare, University of California and Mercy ACO Iowa among its clients.
"Innovaccer's approach to data aggregation and analytics fundamentally helps healthcare organizations implement value-based care models and improve care delivery," said Gopinath of the investment. "We look to invest in startups addressing huge markets with best-in-class deep technology. We are excited to support Innovaccer as they continue to scale and grow in the global healthcare market."
M12 is made up of venture capitalists and veterans of Microsoft who are located in North America, Europe, and Israel. It has invested in more than 70 startups around the world including cybersecurity, AI, business SaaS, and industrial drone companies.