AppCampus has become a force of its own since opening its doors in May. If you haven’t caught our previous coverage, the program is operated by Aalto University in partnership with Nokia and Microsoft, who each gave €9 million with the goal of supporting the development of applications on their platforms. I got the chance to talk with Paolo Borella, one of the leads at AppCampus about what the program has been up to.
So far AppCampus has received about 1400 submissions. Investment decisions have been made in over 60 cases, with €1.7 million distributed as of Monday. Initially AppCampus received a lot of attention from Finnish applicants, but Borella says that now the geographical distribution is becoming more varied. Finland rings in as less than 30 percent of the applicants, while the U.S. is in the second position with 11%, followed by Russia.
The AppCampus program is focusing on a few major areas. The monetary award is one part that helps grab attention, but they can also help out with marketing and distribution support to accepted teams through Microsoft and Nokia’s channels.
“We can help you make a beautiful application and put it on the marketplace, but the end result is the traction you can get. This is where we have a unique advantage. We can leverage Microsoft and Nokia to distribute and promote for the best cases. So not everybody, but a few will be able to leverage Microsoft’s and Nokia’s strength to push and promote their activities. It’s kind of an unfair advantage,” says Borella.
So far none of their teams have shipped yet, but Borella says that one team will likely have their product on the market by the end of the year.
But it’s not all money and marketing, they hope to provide education to the teams through tools and mentorship. Teams are spread out all over the world, so they’re working on scaling up support and knowledge to AppCampus teams by the web. But for teams that are interested in coming to Finland, Borella sees AppCademy, sort of a seed accelerator, as the top of that pyramid.
Borella is also a Startup Sauna coach, and you can see he’s taken some of the concepts from that accelerator. Currently they’re validating this concept with a pilot of 13 teams from 10 countries that are finishing up a four week program. After the feedback they’ll get from this program, they’ll tweak the concept and run it a few more times next year.
Right now the concept mixes hands-on lectures, workshops, one-on-one coaching sessions, and events. The first week focused on “what” they wanted to do, to focus on their message, then the two middle weeks were more on “how” to make it happen, with technical and design focus, and then the last week was on “where” to make their app available and how to make that happen.
To support AppCademy and the rest of the teams, AppCampus is opening up a co-working space on the Aalto University campus that will be available on a first-come first-served basis at end of the year.
Without any apps on the market it’s tough to make any concrete statements about how the program is accomplishing its goals. But from talking to Borella it seems that they’re running a focused program that is providing good support developers and the Nokia/Windows platform.