Microsoft is helping fund startups created by laid off smartphone workers in Finland

Microsoft may have laid off the vast majority of its smartphone workers in Finland that once worked at Nokia. However, the company has created a program called Polku that is aiming to assist those workers with finding new jobs or even helping to create startups.

ZDNet reports that Microsoft's Polku program began with the company's first big round of layoffs in mid-2015 and it has continues through the latest layoffs that were announced earlier this year. In addition to normal severance packages Microsoft efforts extend to helping some employees start their own companies:

This scheme, called Kipinä, 'a spark', offers coaching, lectures, equipment, and workspaces for those looking to start their own company. These startups can also be eligible for a grant of up to €60,000 ($67,000) per person or €240,000 ($26,900) per company depending on their business plan and employment potential.

Microsoft says that 100 startups have been given grants as part of this program. One of them is Quiske, which is creating a software tool that's designed to help increase the performance of competitive rowers:

Quiske CEO Kristina Björnäs spent 12 years at Microsoft and Nokia and started the company with four likeminded partners from among her former colleagues. "I'd have become an entrepreneur in any case. But without Microsoft's program I would have probably become a one-person company and focused on beekeeping or something. It's great to be able to do technology product development, which would not have been possible without Polku," Björknäs says.

Microsoft claims that 250 jobs have been created as a result of its startup grants in Finland, and that number is expected to double in the next 12 months.

John Callaham