Cloud CRM provider Salesforce.com has launched a new competition for European start-ups building enterprise applications, in a bid to lure them to its cloud platform.
Start-ups will be able to win a share of €5 million in investment capital from a panel of VCs. However, to be eligible for the prize money they must port their apps to Salesforce.com's cloud platform, which includes Force.com and Heroku.
The Innovation Challenge is open to enterprise app developers that have already developed a cloud-based enterprise application to 'beta' or a later stage, and can demonstrate "customer success and user adoption". They must demonstrate "planned or existing adoption and innovative utilisation of the Salesforce Platform".
"The winning start-ups will have the opportunity to negotiate with the participating venture capital firms for seed funding to jump-start a new business or for a Series A investment to accelerate growth of an existing business," Salesforce.com said in a statement.
"Winners will also be able to build, package and sell their apps on the Salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading business apps marketplace."
The scheme is backed by venture capital firms including MMC Ventures, Octopus Investments and Notion Capital, the firm set up by the founders of MessageLabs. Start-ups will be able to pitch to investors at events Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.
Salesforce.com pointed to a recent report from Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), which predicted the market for cloud-based enterprise apps will grow by 206% to £2.6 billion by 2018. It predicted that the number of developers working on cloud-based enterprise apps will grown 159% over the next five years.
The company's cloud platform comprises a number of different services. Force.com is a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering that allows developers to build apps in Salesforce.com's proprietary language Apex or, thanks to partnership with VMware, Java. Heroku is a PaaS for building apps using Ruby on Rails, Java, Python and other development languages. Database.com allow developers to build on to Salesforce.com core database platform, while Site.com helps companies build websites for marketing.
Companies who have built their apps on Salesforce.com's platform include FinancialForce.com, an cloud accounting subsidiary of Unit 4; HR software-as-a-service provider FairSail; and carbon tracking app develop CloudApps.
The company was one of the first to launch a "platform-as-a-service" offering. However, it has evidently been the slowest growing component of the company's business.
Earlier this month, Pivotal – a spin off from EMC and VMware – announced that it would be entering the platform-as-a-service market with Pivotal One, which it claims will help organisations build cloud-hosted apps on the Hadoop data model.