After some hinting around the edges in recent days, Microsoft today unveiled the Bing Fund, its new tool that will both invest in and incubate startups. The Fund is sponsored by Bing, as you likely guessed.

According to its FAQ, the Bing Fund is looking for “startups that are building online or mobile experiences that incorporate fresh insights.” It does not appear to be a requirement that a startup intend to use Microsoft technology to be selected, though I would guess that it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do so.

The Fund, aside from providing capital and assistance, will, and this is no surprise, hand out subsidized access to Bing’s search APIs, which recently went paid. From its website, here is a full list of what the Fund will offer to companies that it selects:

• Subsidized use of unique APIs from Bing’s data ecosystem
• The opportunity to access certain technology assets developed by Microsoft Research
• Assistance from Bing Fund team members who specialize in design, engineering, marketing, and building businesses
• Consultations with Subject Matter Experts at Microsoft, some of whom are world experts in their areas
• Exposure to Microsoft executives
• Connections with our partners and customers
• Funding
• Co-workspace for startups located in the Seattle area.

Companies that take part will retain full intellectual property rights.

That’s not a small list. The Bing Fund is about to change, and I would say radically, the Seattle startup ecosystem. With the addition of this new pool of money, and with Microsoft and Amazon as anchors, the Seattle area is fully a hub of its own for technology companies.

How much money does the Fund have? It’s not saying, instead demurely stating that it only intends to accept a few companies at a time, replacing graduating firms as they fly the coop. Oh, and if you want to Microsoft to buy your growing concern, the Bing Fund has some words on that:

If we complete the program successfully, will Microsoft buy my company? While we can’t make any guarantees, acquisition is always a possibility.

For more on why Microsoft may be building the Bing Fund, head here. And for a short look at who the company is looking to hire to run it, head here.

Oh, and if you want to apply, this is the site you need to hit up.

Top Image Credit: David Herrera