Government Agencies Connect Local Companies to Microsoft’s Multibillion-Dollar R&D

LISBON, Portugal — Jan. 31, 2006 — Today at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Europe 2006, Brad Smith, Microsoft Corp. senior vice president and general counsel, will announce an expansion of the company’s IP Ventures program to include close collaboration with governments and public sector development agencies. Under this innovative program, Microsoft opens up internally developed technologies to governments to facilitate new product and business development with entrepreneurs and small businesses. By licensing and spinning out Microsoft’s innovations, governments can work with their local startup and venture capital community to encourage new business growth and deliver innovative technology to new markets.

The combination of support from governmental economic development agencies and access to commercially viable technologies through IP Ventures provides businesses with unique opportunities. In addition to government support through special funding, prescriptive guidance or even office space, local entrepreneurs and startup businesses will now also have access to technologies that can quickly be brought to market.

“Microsoft is an intellectual property company. We are committed to the promotion and sharing of our intellectual property because it drives innovation and creates sustainable, local economic development in Europe and around the globe,” Smith said. “By extending the reach of IP Ventures through government agencies, we believe new businesses will bring more technology to market, faster, and they’ll also contribute back to local economies.”

IP Ventures’ outreach to governments in Europe and Asia is rapidly gaining interest and adoption. Notable examples include the work Microsoft has done with Enterprise Ireland, an economic development agency, and The Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (Sitra). The alliances with IP Ventures can help meet the agencies’ goals for economic development.

“The relationship we have with Microsoft can translate into real progress for companies in Finland,” said Esko Aho, president of Sitra and former prime minister of Finland. “This is a spearheading initiative of global cross-border cooperation between small and medium-sized companies and large corporations, which creates a win-win advantage for both parties with a positive economic impact.”

“Enterprise Ireland is dedicated to assisting Irish companies to grow and sustain strong positions in global markets,” said Frank Ryan, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. “IP Ventures furthers our ability to assist local businesses in an international market.”

Softedge-Systems Licenses Digital Media-Related Technology

Collaboration with Enterprise Ireland, along with unique IP Ventures technology from Microsoft Research, has helped Softedge-Systems, a Dublin-based software product company, realize rapid growth and quick time to market. Softedge-Systems provides user-friendly, cost-effective software products that allow non-technical users to create multimedia documents and/or content. Softedge-Systems is a product-centric software solutions provider in the areas of e-enablement and multimedia document generation. Interactive Image Cutout is an image-editing technology that offers an easy-to-use method for manipulating and moving objects in pictures and photographs.

“Enterprise Ireland helped connect us with Microsoft to access this technology for our products,” said Vikas Sahni, CEO of Softedge-Systems. “This level of support is exactly the kind of help that small and medium-sized enterprises need to get a real foothold in the industry.”

IP Ventures Program Sees Support From Venture Capital Community

Microsoft is receiving positive reactions from the venture capital (VC) community in Europe about this program and its approach. In addition to government outreach, IP Ventures has developed relationships with the entrepreneurs in the VC community. “We are a venture capital firm specializing in high-technology investments in Europe,” said Hermann Hauser, co-founder and director of Amadeus Capital Partners Ltd. “The IP Ventures program is an exceptional complement to our efforts to nurture the growth and development of new companies. Microsoft has made it easy for us to work together.”

New Technologies

Following the launch of IP Ventures in May 2005, Microsoft has steadily expanded the list of technologies available to startups, entrepreneurs, VC firms and government agencies. Originally, IP Ventures was launched with an offering of 20 available technologies, and its ongoing efforts to add technologies to the program have raised the number of offerings to 35.

“Microsoft Research is excited about making our technologies available to innovative companies, and we are delighted that Softedge-Systems will take our Interactive Image Cutout technology to market,” said Harry Shum, managing director of Microsoft Research Asia. “We want to be ambassadors of innovation around the globe, and IP Ventures is helping to make that possible.”

At the Government Leaders Forum today, Microsoft will introduce, among others, the technologies listed below:

  • Mobile Bandwidth Aggregation technology aggregates the bandwidth from multiple cellular phone signals to provide a single high-capacity Internet connection anywhere there is cellular phone service. Unlike other solutions, this technology can use different types of networks, carriers and technologies to create a single persistent Internet connection. (Developed in the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab)

  • Distributed Constraint Solver is a constraint-based optimization engine that can solve large problem sets with tens of thousands of constraints over thousands of variables. This technology has been used to solve large industrial problems, such as resource allocation, workflow publishing, scheduling, configuration and model checking. Unlike other solutions, this technology is designed to run on multicore, parallel and distributed architectures so computing power can be increased by adding low-cost PCs, and it seamlessly integrates a variety of methods to find optimal solutions. (Developed in the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab)

  • Interactive Display technology enables touch and gesture-based control of high-resolution information displayed on a large piece of acrylic plastic. Applications include product information displays and interactive displays for complex command and control operations, such as a seaport or energy grid applications. This technology is less expensive than large plasma or CRT displays and is usable where rear-projection systems are not practical (e.g., glass storefronts). (Developed in the Microsoft Research Redmond lab)

More information about licensing options for the new and existing IP Ventures technologies can be found at

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