Microsoft Boosts Research Effort with European Initiative

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced yesterday that the company will delve deeper into scientific research with its EuroScience Initiative. Gates said at the company’s Government Leaders Forum in Prague that Microsoft will collaborate with European institutes to further research in science and technology.

The first center, at the University of Trento, Italy, will develop means of using computational tools in biology. The university and Microsoft’s research center in Cambridge, England, have worked together before on a conference on converging sciences held in Trento in December.

Microsoft will pay for 40 percent of the project and give software and the time of its Cambridge researchers to the effort. The Italian government will foot the rest of the bill.

Routine for Giant

Rob Horwitz, CEO and research chair of the independent firm Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld that the initiative is not a surprise. Microsoft does not have the extensive researchfacilities that IBM and HP Labs are known for, but Rob Horwitz, CEO andresearch chair of the independent firm Directions on Microsoft, toldTechNewsWorld that the initiative is not a surprise.

“I’d suggest viewing Microsoft’s EuroScience Initiative in the context of the company’s overall outreach efforts, especially efforts to have a greater local presence in countries outside the U.S. and be perceived as a good corporate citizen in general,” he said.

According to Gates, Microsoft’s focus will be on expanding the use of computers into new areas, computational science and developing “ambient intelligence,” or the use of embedded computers in everyday life. It is negotiating with research centers in the U.K., France and Germany.

Win-Win

Collaborative efforts between technology companies and educational institutions such as this one are relatively commonplace because they can be mutually beneficial, Horwitz said.

“For a number of reasons, Microsoft is always looking for ways to reach out to the academic community,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Within academia, historically important technical advancements have been incubated and developed. And of course, the platforms and development tools used in academia have a spill-over effect in the corporate world, as students and researchers move into the private sector.”

Horwitz also explained that being close to the academic community gives Microsoft opportunities to recruit the “best and brightest” for its own research and development divisions.

The EuroScience Initiative includes a scholarship program for European doctoral candidates, workshops and a scientist of the year award.

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