Technology Record - Issue 31: Winter 2023

Starting strong Microsoft for Startups supports innovation by offering technology services and industry-specific guidance. Sally Ann Frank discusses the values behind the programme and some of the solutions it has helped to develop for the health and life sciences industries Fifty million new startup companies emerge every year, yet only one in ten businesses will make a profit in their first two to three years, according to data reporting firm DemandSage. Most startups fail because they don’t have access to essential technology and expert guidance. This is where Microsoft for Startups can help. Sally Ann Frank, worldwide lead for health and life sciences (HLS) at Microsoft for Startups, explains how the team is accelerating the development and growth of new businesses by offering support and advice. What was your professional background before joining Microsoft and how does your experience contribute to your understanding of the challenges startups face? While I have had roles in both the defence and social services industries, I have also worked as vice president of marketing for a Microsoft partner. Starting out as a part-time marketing coordinator while my daughter was a toddler, I eventually took a full-time role, adding to my duties in marketing and sales. The company was essentially a startup when I joined, so that, along with my experience owning two companies, helps me understand the startup journey and the unique challenges of developing a business within the confines of a larger ecosystem. Please tell us about the Microsoft for Startups team and your specific area of expertise. Microsoft for Startups has been around for decades, known under various names like Bizspark. However, our team established in 2020 is specifically industry focused. Our team helps accelerate growth for startups in key industries like retail, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and HLS. From an HLS perspective, we are engaged with big data plays, generative AI and machine learning. We focus on the delivery of healthcare – whether that is helping healthcare professionals to collaborate, improve patient engagement, or accelerate drug discovery. My expertise is concentrated on business development strategies, marketing and sales with a bit of technical expertise thrown in. I’ve been in the technology industry for far longer than I’d like to admit, but my experience has always been on the business development side. This has prepared me to guide startup founders and their teams on how to go to market effectively. I share best practices with the startups, not just those from my own experience, but also from what I see in the industry. I spend about an hour every day catching up on the HLS startup news so I can monitor trends and understand what makes some startups successful and why others fail. How has the combination of a global pandemic and economic downturn across many parts of the world affected the work that you’re doing? Where has the Microsoft for Startups strategy for healthcare played a useful role in driving innovation? We are all aware that the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the concept of care outside the traditional healthcare models. Telehealth BY ANDY CLAYTON-SMITH “ We focus on the delivery of healthcare – whether that is helping healthcare professionals to collaborate, improve patient engagement, or accelerate drug discovery” 37