Microsoft creates an R&D hub in Spain focused on Artificial Intelligence models to improve user experience

  • The hub will be located in Barcelona and aims to attract talent from all European countries.
  • There will initially be 30 professionals with expertise in advanced areas of software engineering, including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning, which may exceed one hundred employees in the future.

Microsoft has chosen Spain as the base of operations for its new R&D hub specialized in the application of Artificial Intelligence technologies to improve user experience on the web. This facility will be one of eight research centers worldwide and part of Microsoft’s WebXT (Web Experiences Team) division. Chaired by Mikhail Parakhin, WebXT is an organization of more than 5,000 people focused on the development of advanced user experiences that leverage Artificial Intelligence and deep learning technologies.

Located in Barcelona, the hub seeks to attract talent from all European countries and is part of the Search & AI team led by Jordi Ribas, corporate vice president of Microsoft Corporation in the United States. This team that specializes in AI applications is the largest group in WebXT and contributes to the development of multiple Microsoft products, including Windows, Azure and, of course, Bing.

“I am honored to announce the launch of this R&D hub in Spain. After creating Search & AI hubs in London, Munich and Paris, and having been able to learn first-hand about the requirements, needs and, above all, opportunities for attracting talent, I am convinced that implementing this hub in Spain will add much value to Microsoft’s R&D footprint worldwide,” says Jordi Ribas.

In the first phase, the current investment includes the recruitment of 30 Software Engineers and Data Scientists specialized in advanced areas of software engineering including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning, and in the coming years, the hub may exceed 100 employees.  (*)

In the words of Alberto Granados, GM at Microsoft Spain, “Microsoft’s investment in our country is further proof of the high qualifications of our professionals and our ability to become a pole of attraction for talent. Around this hub we want to generate a vector of innovation in Artificial Intelligence – in collaboration with universities, research centers and technology companies, reinforcing our efforts to boost digital talent in Spain and training in machine learning technologies”.

According to Nadia Calviño, First Vice-President of the Government of Spain and Minister for the Economy and Digital Transformation, “We celebrate the announcement of this R&D center in artificial intelligence models and Microsoft’s commitment to our country. The government of Spain is promoting an ambitious digital agenda, supported by the Recovery Plan, which is already mobilizing important investments in the sectors of the most future.”

In words of Jordi Puigneró, Vice President and Minister of Digital Policies and Public Administration of Catalonia, “Catalonia has the capabilities to lead the development of Artificial Intelligence in Europe and has become a global technological pole in this area. The Microsoft R&D Hub reinforces the ecosystem driven by the Artificial Intelligence Strategy of Catalonia (Catalonia.ai) and the joint commitment of the Govern and Microsoft to the CIDAI (Center for Innovation in Data Tech and Artificial Intelligence) as an initiative of reference for the adoption of Artificial Intelligence in Catalonia”.

According to Ada Colau, Major of Barcelona, “It is excellent news that Microsoft has chosen Barcelona for a strategic project linked to Artificial Intelligence: it confirms that we are a leading city in the field of innovation and new technologies, and a pole of attraction in this area. This choice reinforces the city as one of the best in the world to live and work, with a large scientific and technological ecosystem. Companies that want to attract the best talent know that if they are in Barcelona they have it easier.” And she adds: “All the international rankings place us among the most attractive cities for the technology sector, and Microsoft’s decision is further proof of this. In this final stretch of the pandemic, it also shows that Barcelona is recovering well and confirms that the work done in recent years is contributing to improving Barcelona’s attractiveness and its international competitiveness.”

WebXT work areas

The WebXT organization operates as a start-up environment, where it encourages teams to take on challenges that create high impact web experiences to consumers, such as Microsoft Bing, Edge, and MS News, while collaborating with other Microsoft product groups, including Azure, Windows, and Office, among others. The hub in Spain will start with teams from Search & AI, which is part of WebXT, and will focus on four main areas:

  • Growth & Engagement incubates new ideas and growth strategies to attract new users to Bing. It looks to drive increased daily active Bing users in areas such as Rewards, Give with Bing (donations per search), Bing Rebates, Browser Extensions, the Bing app on Xbox, search for apps, files and web pages on Windows and many other projects involving different Microsoft products and technologies.
  • Bing Local Search is responsible for delivering distinct local search experiences and recommendations to the more than 500 million global users of Bing and Web Experiences (WebXT). This team deals with data-mining optimization to extract content from the Internet.
  • Core Search & AI is a leader in the application of Machine Learning at Microsoft and is responsible for delivering the highest quality search experience to more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide with Bing and other search engines powered by Bing technology such as Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Ecosia, or new start-ups such as Neeva. The core search technology developed by this team, including semantic search, is also leveraged in Azure search. It mainly researches on large-scale Deep Learning models based on Artificial Intelligence.
  • Whole Page acts as the hinge for every piece within the Bing search engine. It gathers information from different sources (including web results and instant answers) and optimizes the final search results page experience. It involves building large-scale platforms, analyzing peta-bytes of data, developing Artificial Intelligence models for classification, understanding natural language, and also aims to predict the behavior of millions of users.

(*) Note to editors: Job openings have already been published and recruitment for those roles (including Software Engineers, Artificial Intelligence experts and Data Scientists) are currently underway.

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