Microsoft today unveiled its new BizSpark Plus program, designed to assist select accelerators and incubators, and TechStars announced the first benefit-related news to come out of it. TechStars will be offering each of its startups up to $60,000 of Windows Azure cloud computing and storage services at no cost.

The offer is for a 24-month period and is being extended to TechStars accelerators in Boston, New York, Seattle, Texas, and Boulder, Colorado. Other BizSpark Plus participants are expected to extend similar offers to the startups they’re working with.

“This is the first offer from our new BizSpark Plus program, and we look forward to supporting TechStars members across a number of markets and technology offerings,” said Dan’l Lewin, corporate vice president, Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft.

Nine additional BizSpark Plus members were named in today’s announcement: global accelerators Startup Weekend, SeedCamp, Founders Institute and Fumec; Springboard and TechCity in the U.K.; Eura Technologies and DojoBoost in France; and Cietec in Brazil. Microsoft said these were chosen based on their track record of attracting and nurturing world-class startups.

Founded in 2006, the TechStars community currently includes more than 300 mentors, more than 1,500 investors and over 120 alumni TechStars companies. It is funded by more than 50 venture capital firms and 25 angel investors.

TechStars also led the effort to form the Global Accelerator Network in 2010, a group of almost 40 independently owned and operated organizations from around the world that utilize a mentorship-based startup accelerator model. Its mission is to ensure that 5,000 successful and experienced entrepreneurs and investors will mentor and support 6,000 promising young entrepreneurs. The goal is to increase their success rate tenfold and create 25,000 new jobs by 2015 as well as a sustained engine for growing these figures over time.

David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars, said: “Our passion is helping startups succeed around the world by providing funding and mentorship from the best and brightest Internet entrepreneurs and investors on the planet. The enhanced relationship with Microsoft will allow us to provide our founders with even more valuable support and services. Access to technologies such as Windows Azure and other software and services from Microsoft through the BizSpark Plus program gives our companies a leg up in the all-encompassing race to scale and succeed.”

Lewin said: “TechStars is a great partner with a proven track record of attracting world-class startups. We are excited at the opportunity to work together to help startups when they need it most, with the products, resources and connections they need the most. Working with entrepreneurs on the forefront of the cloud revolution is especially rewarding. Windows Azure is a powerful, integrated platform, making it easy for startups to get their services up and running quickly with minimal overhead.”

Related links:

BizSpark blog post –

Press release –