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March 26, 2012

Nokia and Microsoft developing new university ‘AppCampus’

Microsoft and Nokia are investing €18m in a new app development program at Finland's Aalto university.

By Vinod

The AppCampus programme will draw students’ focus to developing apps for the Windows Mobile platforms, which now run Nokia’s high end smartphones.

Both companies will each invest €9m into a newly established mobile application development program at Finland’s highly regarded Aalto University over the next three years, which it says will drive innovation and business opportunities not just in Finland’s mobile ecosystem, but across Europe as well as internationally. The university will contribute by providing premises, coaching services, and access to both academic and business networks for budding app developers.

"The partnership will allow developers to ideate and monetize business opportunities globally, via both Windows Phone Marketplace and Nokia Store,"
said Kai Öistämö, executive vice president at Nokia.

Microsoft’s president for Western Europe, Klaus Holse, believes that AppCampus is an unprecendented opportunity for young entrepreneurs looking to work in the mobile space.

"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," he said.

While the AppCampus program is focussed on the struggling Windows Phone ecosystem, it will also cover Nokia’s Series 40 OS which runs its featurephones, and its nearly defunct Symbian smartphone operating system.

AppCampus is intended to attract thousands of application proposals from students and entrepreneurs not just from Finland, Nokia’s home, but from all over the world. Mobile entrepreneurs can apply for grants within the AppCampus program beginning in May 2012.

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The Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen welcomed the announcement as a boost to the country’s ICT reputation.

"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."

Despite Nokia and Microsoft’s assertions that the recent launch of the Nokia Lumia 800 – the first smartphone to run Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Mango OS – the partnershup has yet to yield significant results in terms of market share, or profits for Nokia. The smartphone market remains dominated by Apple and devices running Google’s Android software.

Nokia has since released a lower end Lumia 710 device, and is due to reveal its high end Lumia 900 in May in the UK. It’s key selling point in the US has been its 4G compatibility. The UK currently has no 4G networks.



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