Microsoft formally confirmed its commitment to set up a research lab in Cambridge last week.
At a press conference attended by Microsoft luminaries, the vice chancellor of Cambridge University and President of the Board of Trade, Margaret Beckett, Microsoft's UK managing director, David Svendsen, announced that the company would invest #50 million in setting up a new research facility in the city, with close links to the University.
In addition, Microsoft has pledged #10 million in venture capital for small IT firms and start-ups. Half of this will be devoted to local firms, while the remainder will go to Amadeus I, Hermann Hauser's new venture capital initiative.
"We can all take pride in this declaration of confidence in Britain," declared Margaret Beckett. "People here are taking up technology and using it: something Britain does to a greater degree than other people across Europe."
"Microsoft has one of the greatest commitments to research of any company in this industry," claimed Nathan Myrhvold, the company's chief technology officer who studied at Cambridge as a postgrad. "We need to push forward, because the dramatic part of the computer revolution has yet to occur."
Professor Roger Needham, head of Cambridge University's computer labs, will be managing director of Microsoft Research, as the venture will be called. The facility expects to employ around 40 researchers. It will be Microsoft's only major lab outside its Redmond HQ in the US.
Needham identified the management of digital content as one of the lab's possible projects, but said there was no fixed agenda. The aim is to perform long range research rather than develop products. "We're not going to make better safety pins," he said.
An interim site for the new company has been found, close to the University computer labs, while a larger site is sought. Work is expected to begin within a month.
MICROSOFT: BACK TO SCHOOL
Microsoft has announced a Graduate Recruitment Academic Skills Programme (GRASP). The scheme will go into trial at Napier University in Edinburgh in September.
Under the project, students will be able to incorporate into their degree studies an optional module of training for the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) qualification.
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