Salesforce.com is looking for the best startup in Europe that uses its platform. On Thursday, the enterprise cloud computing company announced the creation of a $6.6 million (€$5 million) Innovation Challenge to do just that. The winning companies will have a chance to be funded by Salesforce and at least one of the participating venture capital firms including Notion Capital, Octopus InvestmentsMMC Ventures, Charlotte Street Capital, and Point Nine.

In Europe, Salesforce says that demand for enterprise cloud apps in the industry are expected to help attract 159 percent more developers in the next five years, potentially generating $4.2 million in revenue. The company says that the Innovation Challenge is aimed to help spur new startups to create new tools and apps leveraging Salesforce’s platform.

Salesforce EMEA Chairman Dr. Steve Garrett said in a statement:

The explosion of growth in Europe’s enterprise app market is fueling innovation across the region. Salesforce.com is excited to join forces with leading European venture capital firms to launch the Innovation Challenge and reward Europe’s top entrepreneurs and enable them to accelerate their innovation and time to market.

Interested startups can register online for a chance to present their product or hack in one of several European pitch events that will be taking place between September through November 2013.

In the end, those chosen as finalists will be able to negotiate with the VC firms for seed funding or even Series A investment. The winning Salesforce-powered apps will also be distributed on Salesforce’s AppExchange, the business app marketplace.

Salesforce says that startups who apply must have an existing product that is either in beta or later. Other criteria these companies must show include:

  • Demonstration of traction, customer success and user adoption
  • Market opportunity & go-to-market strategy
  • Track record and passion of the entrepreneurial team
  • Planned or existing adoption and innovative utilisation of the Salesforce Platform
  • Competitors
  • Financial plan

The launch of this challenge certainly will benefit Salesforce. Its AppExchange has more than 1,700 Salesforce partner-built apps and 3 million customer-built apps on it, with 1.7 million installs. As social tools continue to proliferate and emerge on the market, businesses will take notice and their employees will use them more and more.

This event could also be another way to promote its updated mobile services. Last month, Salesforce released an updated mobile SDK and developer mobile pack with new support for Javascript frameworks, making app creation easier.

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