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Salesforce WearSalesforce Ventures has allocated $100 million to invest in European startups as the investment arm of the cloud giant aims to capitalise on a potential $33.3 billion market. Any European cloud start up that impresses the venture capitalists could typically expect backing of between $1 million and $5 million, according to the fund’s development head.

As the investment arm of cloud-based CRM giant Salesforce it has already invested £500 million in 150 cloud and enterprise startups since 2009. However the majority of these have been US based and only 17 European cloud start up firms have been funded. However, researcher IDC predicts that the European cloud sector will grow 12 as fast as any other sector of the IT industry. As Europe catches up with the US, by 2019 its cloud market could be worth a collective $33.3 billion, it said.

As the global shift to the cloud generates demand for exciting new social, mobile and data science technologies it is creating an opportunity that should not be missed, said Salesforce EVP of corporate development John Somorjai. The European investment business will link back to Salesforce Ventures’ operations in the US run by Somorjai. London based Alex Kayyal will head the Salesforce Ventures’ efforts in Europe.

“There is so much incredible innovation happening in Europe today and we want to empower the next generation of enterprise cloud startups in the region,” said Somorjai, “Our $100 million commitment strengthens our mission to help startups grow and give back to their communities.”

However, he admitted that the competition has already started with five investments already earmarked to take a chunk of the budget.

European cloud start ups that have previously won funding from Salesforce Ventures include CartoDB, CloudSense, Cloud9 IDE, NewVoiceMedia, Qubit, Universal Avenue and YOUR SL. It’s not just about the money, according to Ruben Daniels, co-founder of Cloud9 IDE. “It’s the network and introductions, mentorship and framework that help,” said Daniels.

Salesforce Ventures’ global expertise was as important as its funding, according to CartoDB founder Javier de la Torre. “It helps us more effectively bring our data visualization tools to individual and business users around the world,” said de la Torre.

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