Just last week, Microsoft announced that developers have created some 70,000 applications for the Windows Phone. Not a bad start, but still way behind the likes of Android and Apple’s iOS.

Now, Microsoft and its partner Nokia are looking to add to that total, bolstering the ecosystem for mobile application development. And the companies are turning to Finland to get the job done. Nokia and Microsoft both have agreed to invest nine million Euros into a newly-established program called AppCampus at Finland’s Aalto University. The three-year program is set to debut in May.

“AppCampus offers an unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their ideas into practice and create world-class mobile products,” said Ari Rahkonen, General Manager of Microsoft. “We want to turn a new leaf in the mobile industry and foster Finland’s role as a center of excellence for mobile technology.”

The program is not limited to Finnish developers, with the companies saying that it plans to attract thousands of applications from students and entrepreneurs throughout the world. Those who are accepted into the program will receive access to Nokia and Microsoft executives, as well as instruction from leading mobile experts.

To some degree, the concept is similar to the Kinect accelerator that Microsoft is launching with TechStars in Seattle this Spring.

Jyrki Katainen. Wikipedia photo

However, the dollar amounts being pledged by Microsoft and Nokia in AppCampus are far more significant, raising the question of whether we could see a similar program established on the shores of the U.S. (University of Washington anyone?)

It will be tough to keep pace with Finland, whose prime minister, Jyrki Katainen, embraced the new AppCampus program at a ceremony in Helsinki today.

“Finland is an early-adopter market, and the significance of national education and technology innovation is deeply rooted in our culture,” Kaitainen said in a press release. “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.”

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  • http://www.scoutzie.com/?utm_source=disqus&utm_medium=display_name&utm_campaign=disqus_display Kirill Zubovsky

    It’s great to see that Microsoft is taking initiative to fuel Finish economy, given that Nokia had to layoff lots of people due to MS acquisition. If they do succeed and students end up building these apps, the partnership will be great at not only building more WP apps but in growing a new wave of design and development talent. Good job, Microsoft. Well done.

  • Guest

    Educational (and as a result tax advantaged) investment of MS overseas unrepatriated revenues to get more apps made for WP? That’s a no brainer.

    • Guest

      Noun:The action or process of investing money for profit or material result.

      No brainer? What’s the profit side of that “investment”? How many actual apps will be generated as a result of this progam? Will any of those be world-class and sufficiently differentiated to provide WP with a competitive advantage? Even if they are, will consumers know or care and will it be enough to overcome the chronic demand related problems that MS/Nokia are experiencing?

      What is the central strategy for MS and Nokia? The best app platform? The best hardware? The lowest price? Some combo? Is their strategy even clear? Right now it seems to consist of almost competitive hardware, with an almost competitive OS, a badly lagging but improving app portfolio, and a premium price (in most cases). That’s being supported by average marketing (better on Nokia’s side, worse on MS’s) and a channel that for the most part isn’t motivated to sell the product. Not exactly a winning approach for two companies that are so far behind now that they’re effectively niche players for all practical purposes.

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