Since 2011, Dell has been supporting tech startups through several high-profile initiatives. So Dell's announcement last week of its\u00a0program for promising\u00a0technology startups doesn't come as a surprise. Dell announced\u00a0the Founders Club 50 program, describing it as "an exclusive group of emerging companies that have technology as a critical backbone and are poised for rapid growth." A 2-year Acceleration Program Companies in the Dell Founders Club 50 are part of\u00a0a two-year program. During the two years, the companies get access to technology, capital, marketing, sales enablement and networking opportunities to accelerate their businesses. That access is\u00a0coordinated\u00a0through\u00a0the\u00a0Dell Center for Entrepreneurs,\u00a0the arm of Dell that works with outside startups. "By serving as a trusted advisor to these companies at this crucial early stage, we hope they will continue to grow with Dell in the future," said\u00a0Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell Entrepreneur in Residence and the public face of the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs. "Dell has always seen the value in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, and the Founders Club 50 is the natural next step in continuing to help high-growth start-ups expand their networks, find valuable resources and use technology to transform their businesses," she added. Innovation from Outside -- and Inside At\u00a0Dell World last December, CEO Michael Dell pointed out that now that his company is private once again, it has more freedom to focus on innovation. \u00a0\u00a0The company launched a marketing campaign celebrating\u00a0Dell's roots as a startup founded thirty years ago by\u00a0Michael Dell in college dorm room 2713 (see video of Dell Beginnings\u00a0ad spot below). \u00a0The former Fortune 50 company began\u00a0referring\u00a0to itself as the world's largest startup -- reinforcing the mental association between innovation and Dell. Also in December, Dell announced a $300 million\u00a0Innovation Venture Fund under the wing of Dell Ventures, its\u00a0venture capital arm. \u00a0The Dell Center for Entrepreneurs also has a $100 million debt financing fund to support startups. You might wonder why a company like Dell would invest effort and money in outside\u00a0startups. While the company appears\u00a0committed to mentoring entrepreneurs and giving back to the startup community, it's more than that. There are business reasons behind\u00a0the\u00a0initiatives. Dell Ventures and the Center for Entrepreneurs are both ways\u00a0for the company to bring in innovation from\u00a0the outside. \u00a0Dell may become an\u00a0owner of these innovative startups, eventually acquiring some of them or licensing their technology, or partnering with them. There's also a\u00a0desire to\u00a0spur innovation from within. \u00a0Dell is undergoing a transformation\u00a0from a hardware company to a\u00a0hardware,\u00a0software and services company. That's a massive shift. \u00a0It will require many of Dell's 100,000 employees to adapt. \u00a0They will have to learn what's happening in today's external tech landscape, spot opportunities, embrace risk-taking, and innovate from within. How do you foster\u00a0a culture capable of innovating from within? \u00a0Two ways are by supporting innovation publicly\u00a0and exposing employees to today's entrepreneurs with\u00a0their ideas and dynamic attitudes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja61fxmY77Q How to Qualify for the Dell Founders Club 50 The Founders Club 50 is\u00a0limited to\u00a0high-growth tech startups that Dell will put effort toward helping grow. The Spring 2014 class of the Founders Club 50 includes companies in the fields of data analytics, computer consulting, consumer electronics, energy, entertainment, enterprise services, healthcare, information technology, marketing, mobile, networking, security, software and telecommunications. To qualify for the Founders Club 50, companies must have technology as\u00a0a critical component of the business. \u00a0They\u00a0must be innovative and disruptive in\u00a0their industries. \u00a0Most will have received venture capital or angel funding, and while they are not yet household names, they must be poised for rapid growth and on the verge of making it big. Dell\u00a0expects to announce a new Founders Club 50\u00a0twice a year, and is accepting applications for the Fall 2014 group now. If you think your company may qualify, go here to apply.