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Microsoft Announces Latin American Collaborative Research Federation


“Virtual institute” to advance technology research, create global awareness and foster opportunities for faculty and students.

Viña del Mar, Chile — Speaking today at the Microsoft Research Third Annual Latin American Academic Summit in Chile, Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie of Microsoft Corp. announced the formation of a new, broad collaboration among Latin American and Caribbean universities. The Latin American Collaborative Research Federation will work with Microsoft Research to explore emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their applications across the region, with an eye toward solving important social and economic issues and developing Latin America’s burgeoning knowledge economy. The three-year project will receive nearly $1 million in funding along with collaborative support from Microsoft Research.

“Latin America is home to some of the finest minds in technology and science today,” said Mundie at today’s summit. “New approaches in ICT can have great impact in a wide range of areas that are crucial to the region, including education, healthcare, agribusiness, micro-economies, energy and the environment. Together, Microsoft and the Latin American Collaborative Research Federation will focus their efforts on building a better future through innovation.”

The Research Federation will be structured as a “virtual institute” under a hub-and-spoke model. Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile will work in association with the Universidad de Chile to form the hub, or administrative center, of the Research Federation. A steering committee will include representatives from “spoke” universities from all over Latin America.

The structure of the new Research Federation is intended to allow local faculty and students to develop local solutions, while tapping into the resources of the broader federation. It will also facilitate greater diversity of participating researchers, which will comprise academia as well as nongovernmental organizations. The Research Federation will serve as a virtual gathering place for scholars to teach, share and build global awareness for Latin America’s research capacity, stimulating broad economic opportunity for the region. Lectures and workshops will be webcast between the universities, and the advanced Internet technology provided by the CLARA (Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks) network across Latin America will serve as a critical underlying platform for the Federation’s work.

“This is a winning situation for everyone,” said Ignacio Casas Raposo, professor of Information Technology, Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile. “The Federation and combined research agenda we are building with Microsoft will be a catalyst for collaboration across the region, and will enable participation from the broader academic community. In turn, our results will be shared and considered more broadly and help raise the profile of the work happening here to a global stage. Ultimately this will advance the state of technology research in Latin America and, by extension, the world.”

The new Research Federation is being spearheaded by Microsoft’s External Research & Programs group, the arm of Microsoft Research that works closely with academic institutions around the globe. The Latin American Collaborative Research Federation is the 10th such institute the group has formed, reflecting Microsoft Research’s own model of broad collaboration among world-class scientists. This collaboration is also aligned with the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program. Around the world, Unlimited Potential uses technology, training and partnerships to help transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunity with the goal of strengthening social and economic growth.

“The power of computing and information technology is critical to economic, educational and social advancement,” said Sailesh Chutani, director of the External Research & Programs group. “This Research Federation will help build capacity by providing a solid infrastructure to increase the visibility of all participants and their research projects. In the end, the Federation will create a direct channel for the flow of information and innovation across Latin America.”

Joining Microsoft in establishing the Research Federation is the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Both institutions promote cooperation between the private sector, academy and governments to develop and increase the use of information and communication technologies. The Research Federation is delivering on the commitment of the private- and public-sector collaboration between these institutions and Microsoft to foster digital inclusion, develop economies and support competitiveness in the region through increasing research capacity for faculty and students.

“Clearly information technology and telecommunications are important in developing countries,” said Vivian Heyl Chiappini, president of the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research). “And there is a need to advance a common agenda for research in Latin America that increases opportunities for teachers, researchers and students. This will only be possible by offering research resources and opportunities for collaboration. We must create networks of related organizations. The joint development of a virtual research federation is indispensable.”


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