Microsoft launches first AI residency outside the US, so UK graduates can learn from the best experts in the world

The first artificial intelligence residency outside of the US is to be launched in the UK by Microsoft.

The technology company is inviting graduates with an interest in AI and machine learning to apply for the one-year residency programme, working alongside world-leading experts to solve real-world problems.

While other US-based firms run similar schemes, Microsoft’s will be the only one in the UK.

“At Microsoft, we are committed to leveraging the power of AI to benefit people and greater society,” Chris Bishop, Laboratory Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge, said during a speech in Switzerland. “Advances in AI can be applied to address some of the world’s biggest challenges, and so we are keen to nurture the next generation of talent, so they are better prepared to innovate and contribute to multiple areas of AI, including machine learning, planning and decision making.

Chris Bishop, Laboratory Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge, writes on a transparent wall
Chris Bishop, Laboratory Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge

“The Residency Program will give participants hands-on experience working alongside Microsoft researchers, engineers, and product teams, learning how to develop and deploy AI techniques and solutions at scale across a range of areas, such as healthcare, scientific discovery, productivity, and gaming. By the end of the Program, residents will have gained significant applied experience in AI and will be encouraged to apply for a regular position at Microsoft.”

The programme will be run from Microsoft’s Cambridge lab, bringing together a range of people with different skills in order to overcome challenges such as bias in data. The successful candidates will work on real-world projects that use AI to improve lives and tackle some of society’s toughest challenges.

Cambridge is one of the leading cities in the world for research in cutting-edge technologies. This has had a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy, with the number of AI jobs in Britain jumping by 485% in the past three years, according to job website Indeed. Venture capital firm MMC Ventures found that a new AI start-up is founded every week in this country, while a study by consultancy Oxford Insights revealed that the UK came first for AI readiness in a list of 35 countries.

“We are establishing the UK as a world leader in artificial intelligence,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in her speech at the World Economic Forum last week. “I believe we have only just seen the beginning of what AI can achieve.

“Imagine a world in which self-driving cars radically reduce the number of deaths on our roads. Imagine a world where remote monitoring and inspection of critical infrastructure makes dangerous jobs safer. Imagine a world where we can predict and prevent the spread of diseases around the globe. These are the kinds of advances that we could see and that we should want to see.

“We are absolutely determined to make our country the place to come and set up to seize the opportunities of artificial intelligence for the future.”

However, the UK is not producing enough graduates with the right digital skills. In a bid to tackle the problem, the Government recently announced a new £20 million Institute of Coding, with funding to be matched by companies including Microsoft. The firm has also launched its own digital skills programme in this country.

Microsoft’s AI placement is specifically looking for BSc, MSc and PhD graduates in subjects such as Mathematics, Engineering, Physics, Computer Science, Economics, Human-Computer Interaction, Computational Biology and other related disciplines.

It will run alongside a similar programme at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, in the US.

Notebook and pen laying on paper showing physics diagrams
Microsoft is looking for graduates in subjects including Physics

How to apply

To apply to the 2018 Microsoft AI Residency Programme, you will need to complete the application form and submit a cover letter that includes a personal statement as to why you would be perfect for the programme, and a CV that includes links to GitHub, professional webpages, publications or blog posts.

The residency programme will start in September 2018 and will be full-time for one year. Applications close on March 30, with interviews taking place in March and April. Microsoft will then notify successful candidates by early May.

Eligibility criteria

  • Experience developing in at least one high-level language such as Python or C/C++/C#
  • Enthusiasm to move into the field is essential
  • Ability to work in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment
  • Strong communication skills
  • Experience with machine learning techniques or deep learning frameworks is desirable

To apply, visit the Microsoft Research Cambridge website.