Microsoft and Nokia are announcing today that they will each invest up to 9 million euros ($11.9 million) into a new "AppCampus" mobile app development program. Based in Finland, the program will launch in May and be managed by Aalto University. Nokia and Microsoft hope to attract students and entrepreneurs from around the world towards the Windows Phone and Symbian / S40 platforms, although it does appear that Finnish students based at Aalto University may benefit the most from what is described as a move to "strengthen Finland’s competitiveness."
Despite Nokia's decision to switch to Windows Phone for the majority of its smartphone offerings, Microsoft's mobile application ecosystem has been slow at attracting big names. Currently at 70,000 applications, the Windows Phone Marketplace lacks popular titles like Angry Birds Space, Draw Something, and Instagram. Developers appear to be marking the platform as low priority for now, and Microsoft's public investment is a sign that the company is serious about reversing this trend. With support, training, and even funding being made available, the 18 million euros investment might not be as big as a $200 million "iFund" for Apple's iOS platform, but Microsoft's president of Western Europe describes it as part of turning "a new leaf in the mobile industry."