To drive innovation and business opportunities in Finland's mobile ecosystem and beyond, Microsoft Corp. and Nokia will each invest up to 9 million Euros into a newly established mobile application development program at Aalto University during the next three years. The AppCampus program has been set up to foster the creation of innovative mobile applications for the Windows Phone ecosystem, and in addition Nokia platforms, including Symbian and Series 40, to create a new generation of self-sustaining mobile startups. Kicking off in May 2012, the Finland-based program will be led and managed by Aalto University, which has a growing reputation as a hotbed of new startup companies. AppCampus is intended to attract thousands of application proposals from students and entrepreneurs from all over the world. Aalto University will make a significant contribution to the project by providing premises, coaching services, and access to both academic and business networks for budding app developers. Within the AppCampus program, mobile entrepreneurs can benefit from comprehensive support, training in mobile technology, design and usability, and funding to create innovative new mobile apps and services. Windows Phone Marketplace and Nokia Store offer local and global business opportunities to program participants via distribution to consumers around the world. Mentored by veterans in the mobile industry, program participants will be given insights and business coaching to help them commercialize their ideas while retaining the full intellectual property rights for their innovations. "The ICT industry and knowledge base in Finland is one of the most competitive in the world, particularly in the mobile technology field," said Jyrki Katainen, Finnish prime minister, at the launch event for the AppCampus program in Helsinki. "Finland is an early-adopter market, and the significance of national education and technology innovation is deeply rooted in our culture. As a result, there is a growing appetite for entrepreneurship among the younger generation at Aalto University and beyond. The partnership between Microsoft and Nokia is a critical investment in this growing ecosystem and represents an exciting opportunity and access to global markets for our local startup community." "AppCampus offers an unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their ideas into practice and create world-class mobile products," said Klaus Holse, president, Microsoft Western Europe. "We want to turn a new leaf in the mobile industry and foster Finland's role as a center of excellence for mobile technology. Such investment into early-stage concepts has rarely been seen in this sector, and this demonstrates how highly both Nokia and Microsoft value Finnish mobile expertise." "We are proud to announce this new program, which will enable new and existing developers to create next-generation mobile apps and unique user experiences," said Kai Oistamo, executive vice president, Nokia Corp. "The partnership will allow developers to ideate and monetize business opportunities globally, via both Windows Phone Marketplace and Nokia Store." "An essential part of Aalto University's mission is to strengthen Finland's competitiveness," said Tuula Teeri, president of Aalto University. "We are pleased to host this initiative, which concretely boosts utilization of new knowledge and skills in creation of new entrepreneurial ventures." "Through our technology transfer and Aalto Venture Garage activities, the Aalto University community has been able to help catalyze the creation and growth of more than 30 companies during the past two years, with a number of them having mobile applications," said Will Cardwell, head of the Aalto University Center for Entrepreneurship, which will be charged with managing the program. "The people and ideas we work with hail from all corners of the world, and our partnership with Microsoft and Nokia will further strengthen our global network. This program will provide a unique opportunity to turn application ideas into real business with the support of world-class partners and coaches." "Within our student community, we have a strong mission to boost entrepreneurship and to create more startups," said Teemu Tapanila, a board member of the Aalto Entrepreneurship Society and leader of the Windows Phone Aalto community. "We warmly welcome the opportunities and networks brought by this cooperation." On the AppCampus Program Mobile entrepreneurs can apply for grants within the AppCampus program beginning in May 2012. More information can be found at http://appcampus.aalto.fi/.