Up to four employees can pack together to form startup

Say what you will about Finnish phonemaker Nokia Oyj.'s (HEX:NOK1V) struggles in the market, but the company does deserve plenty of credit for a uniquely humane approach to employee layoffs.

While the company has committed to trim its ranks by 10,000 employees by 2013, the company has also announced an initiative called the "Nokia Bridge Program", an incubator project that gives seed money of €25,000 ($30,650 USD) or £20,000 ($31,000 USD) in the UK.

The funding is essentially a low-interest loan -- Nokia does not take an equity stake in the startups.  It also does not transfer patents to them, although it has worked out special licensing agreements with some startups looking to produce defunct Nokia projects.

One example of such a license is Jolla, a startup formed by fleeing Nokia executives, which looks to reboot Meego.  Nokia killed Meego when it opted to join ranks with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows Phone brigade, but Jolla is working to revive the property.  (Intel Corp. (INTC), Nokia's co-partner on the Meego project has branched the project to a new tree under the name "Tizen".) 

A startup founded by ex-Nokiaers, funded by Nokia loans, looks to give the original Meego OS new life. [Image Source: Mobile Phones]

It is somewhat unclear, though, whether Jolla has a full intellectual property rights (IPR) license, or merely is permitted to use Meego under some other contract (the software is, after all mostly GPL licensed, although some APIs are LGPL licensed).

Over a hundred startups have been launced.  A few highlights, dug up by TechCrunch include: A requirement is that the employees launch their projects in the EU, though a few -- like Decode Global -- have been allowed to launch their startups overseas.

Up to four individuals can pool their loans together to form a single company, with roughly $120K USD in loans.  Nokia also is offering up to €50,000 ($61,300 USD) in follow-up financing to companies that show encouraging results.

Being laid off is never easy, but at least Nokia is giving hundreds of its employees an opportunity to make a bright future for themselves outside its corporate walls.

Sources: Nokia Blog, TechCrunch

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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