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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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