The Deshpande Foundation, founded by global business leader and philanthropist Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande and Jaishree Deshpande, has operations in India, Canada and USA.

It is focusing its efforts in India on ‘building an ecosystem’ to nurture Innovative Social Entrepreneurs.

The three-year collaboration was formalized with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding here on August 23, Microsoft Ventures in India said in a release on Monday.

Sandbox Startups is aimed at providing a launch pad for aspiring entrepreneurs in tier two and three cities so that they can validate their business ideas, sharpen business acumen, develop products and launch solutions to the market, Deshpande Foundation CEO Naveen Jha said.

Innovations by startups groomed under the program will add vibrancy to the ecosystem from those at the bottom of the pyramid, he said.

"The objective of this partnership is to work in an inclusive manner to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, such as early stage entrepreneurs, academia, students, the venture capital community, mentors, advisors, high-net-worth individuals and corporates, are active participants in the innovation ecosystem," he added.

The release said through the partnership, Deshpande Foundation is also launching a new skill development program to ensure that the students and entrepreneurs have access to cutting edge technology training.

"Our partnership with Deshpande Foundation aims to engage with entrepreneurs from smaller towns at every stage of their journey from ideation to maturity. At Microsoft, we are extremely excited to help incubators roll out products and raise capital to fund their growth, eventually benefiting India's budding entrepreneurial ecosystem," Microsoft Ventures in India Director Rajinish Menon said.

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