Nokia may still be fighting some pretty major fires on its burning platform, but it’s also building some bridges — namely the Nokia Bridge incubator program — to help those running from the flames, with financing of up to €250,000 ($308,000) to pursue new startups, before they’ve even paid a visit to VCs and angel investors.
The activities in Nokia Bridge are a small but encouraging counterpoint to the fairly-constant, grim updates on the state of the Finnish mobile company, once the world’s biggest by a long shot, and now under the gun with falling handset sales and dwindling cash reserves as it struggles to compete against the Apple/Android smartphone juggernaut. It’s understood that there are already some 100 companies in the incubator — dozens in the UK alone — although Nokia has not published a list of them anywhere. Jolla, the startup formed by ex-Nokia execs that will try to give MeeGo phones another shot, is one of them.
The basic idea goes like this: Nokia Bridge helps departing employees (there are thousands of them right now) start their own companies.
Some of these are coming out of projects the ex-Nokians may have been pursuing when they were still at Nokia, killed off during the company’s major strategic changes over the last year and a half (eg MeeGo). Others will be something completely different. David Hall, a spokeperson for Nokia Bridge in the UK, tells me that one of the UK startups in the program is developing a wine import/export business (thinking outside the bottle! hah hah).
Each ex-employee gets €25,000 ($30,800), and up to four Nokians can come together for a project — meaning your startup could get a seed fund of €100,000.