Microsoft Research Commits More Than $6 Million to Academic Collaborations

REDMOND, Wash. — July 16, 2007 — More than 400 thought leaders from academia and research labs around the world convened at the Microsoft Corp. headquarters today for the eighth annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, where the company announced it will dedicate more than $6 million (U.S.) in research grants to colleges and universities. Microsoft executives and researchers also met with summit attendees to discuss opportunities for future technological breakthroughs and in what areas technology has the greatest potential to address societal issues.

Addressing professors and researchers from a wide spectrum of disciplines, Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, said, “Regardless of whether you’re a botanist or a brain surgeon, computer science increasingly impacts your work and has the power to provide better outcomes. We’re investing in programs with academia to build better technologies that can lead to better lives.”

Key Areas of Opportunity for Future Breakthroughs

To that end, Microsoft committed nearly $5 million to open requests for proposals (RFPs) — opportunities for academia to receive research funding from Microsoft’s External Research & Programs group, the arm of Microsoft Research that works closely with academic institutions around the globe.

Microsoft will provide funding in the following key areas, which also complement the company’s overall research agenda and goals:

  • Cell phones as a platform for healthcare ($1 million). Encourages the development of new prototypes and tools that utilize cell phones to enable better healthcare services in rural and urban communities

  • Biomedical computing for genome wide association studies ($700,000). Encourages researchers to develop tools that can facilitate better data usage and analysis for genomewide association studies to provide a stronger framework for enabling personalized treatment methods

  • Intelligent Web 3.0 ($500,000). Encourages research to help find, discover, extract, publish, and share information, at a desk or on the go, safely, making the Web meaningful (from string manipulation to meaning computation) and enabling a human-centric, context-aware model of information access

  • Mechanisms for safe and scalable multicore computing ($500,000). Encourages research in how operating systems and runtimes can evolve to enable safe and scalable concurrent programs

  • Sustainable computing ($500,000). Encourages research in innovative approaches toward power-optimized system architectures, and adaptive power management solutions for maximizing the energy efficiency of computing infrastructure

  • Human-robot interaction ($500,000). Encourages research to take human-robot interaction to the next level through development of tools and methods that lead to practical applications with realistic commercial potential within five to 10 years

Microsoft Research also announced the creation of the A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award, which will provide $1 million in funding across several projects to encourage high-quality, breakthrough academic research in computational and multidisciplinary areas. The award honors the memory, legacy and accomplishments of the late A. Richard Newton, former dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and a longtime member of Microsoft Research’s Technical Advisory Board, who died in January 2007.

In addition to funding open RFPs, again this year Microsoft Research will award $1 million to five new and rising faculty members as part of the Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship program. This will be the fourth consecutive year Microsoft has made the awards to stimulate and support creative research by promising researchers who have the potential to make a profound impact on the state of the art in their respective research disciplines.

Enabling Next-Generation Virtual Collaboration

As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to using technology to improve education, Microsoft also announced a $750,000 donation over three years to launch the Center for Collaborative Technologies at University of Washington (UW). This is the latest of 11 centers Microsoft has helped to establish to allow university researchers to focus deeply on extending the state of the art in computing. The center will further develop ConferenceXP, a technology that allows researchers, teachers and students to benefit from real-time research collaboration, wireless-enabled classrooms and highly interactive distance-learning environments.

“By supporting external academic research and creating collaborative institutes like the one with the University of Washington, we are working with academia to help solve some of the world’s biggest societal and economics challenges,” said Sailesh Chutani, director of Microsoft Research External Research & Programs. “We’re anxious to extend our relationships and accelerate innovations that hold the promise to improve education, healthcare and the environment.”

Today’s announcements are representative of the External Research & Programs group’s ongoing commitment to investing deeply in leading-edge research and collaborating closely with the worldwide academic research community through RFPs, awards, endowments and collaborative institutes.

  • New Funding Summary

  • Requests for proposal (6 RFPs): $3,700,000

  • A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award (across multiple projects): $1,000,000

  • 2008 Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowships: $1,000,000

  • Center for Collaborative Technologies at UW: $750,000

  • Total: $6,450,000

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research employs more than 700 people in five labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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