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President of Panama and Head of Microsoft Research Address Scientific Research Opportunities in Latin America


Expansion of the programs is aimed at strengthening region’s research community.

PANAMA CITY, Panama — May 2008 — Microsoft Research today kicked off its fourth annual Latin American Academic Summit, where the Panamanian President Martín Torrijos Espino welcomed nearly 300 academic, government and industry research leaders from 18 Latin American countries to the City of Knowledge research park. The attendees were brought together by Microsoft Research to discuss how scientific research and development can stimulate social, economic and scientific progress throughout the Latin American region. Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, delivered the keynote address, and Gonzalo Rivas, chief of the Division of Science and Technology at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), provided comments.

“We thank Microsoft for having selected Panama to host the Latin American Academic Summit at the City of Knowledge, a complex built atop an ancient military base and dedicated to education, research and innovation, and now home to several companies and international organizations in the new economy,” said Martin Torrijos, president of Panama. “This makes evident how this country accepts the challenge of innovation on a global scale, and we invite Microsoft and other corporations to support Panama, Latin America and the Caribbean in narrowing the gap in the creation of knowledge.”

During a keynote address, Rashid, who is the head of Microsoft Research’s six global research labs, announced the company’s second round of funding to the Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation (Virtual Institute). This funding of $150,000 (U.S.) will help continue the expansion of research opportunities across the region. Rashid also demonstrated Microsoft Corp.’s new WorldWide Telescope, an innovative collaborative tool that brings real celestial bodies to a user’s desktop. The technology became available yesterday as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities.

“For the last five years, Microsoft Research has invested in increasing the capacity, visibility and quality of Latin American academic research through initiatives such as the Virtual Institute, an internship and fellowship program, and support to several innovative research projects,” Rashid said. “We believe that investing in computing and academic research will deliver much-needed, long-term social and economic benefits to the region.”

Joining Microsoft in its support of the Virtual Institute was the IDB, which concluded the morning session by announcing $150,000 (U.S.) in funding for the Virtual Institute, bringing the total to $300,000.

“The Inter-American Development Bank shares Microsoft Research’s commitment to address the research capacity across the region,” IDB’s Rivas said. “We are pleased to announce our contribution of $150,000 to support the Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation and other efforts designed to support a collaborative environment to enable cross-country research and education solutions.”

Today’s announcements and Microsoft Research’s annual Latin American research event underscore future trends of computing research and highlight the importance of collaborating with partners in the academic, education and scientific communities to foster digital inclusion, develop economies and support competitiveness in the region through increasing research capacity for faculty and students.

Over the past several years, Microsoft has worked to identify local trends and challenges in technology, and to establish deep relationships with academic and governmental research communities. Since 2002, Microsoft Research has invested approximately $5 million (U.S.) through research grants, technology learning labs, regional research summits, internships and doctorate fellowships, and other regional initiatives. One tangible result of this investment is the Virtual Institute. The company’s initial contribution to establish the institute in May 2007 was $1.1 million (U.S.). The IDB and the Organization of American States were among the original organizations that joined Microsoft Research in this research endeavor, which is designed to stimulate Latin American academic collaborative research in information and communication technologies as an enabler of economic and social development. The institute’s administrative hub has been established at Pontificia Universidad Catolica De Chile (PUC-Chile) and Universidad de Chile in Santiago, with spoke universities in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Mexico. The research federation is interacting with 215 researchers from 29 universities in 11 countries in Latin America. Microsoft Research also continues to support research projects ranging from advancing bioinformatics, genome biology and biotechnology to digital inclusion through mobile and wireless technologies.

Microsoft External Research collaborates with the world’s foremost researchers in academia, industry and government to move research in new directions across nearly every field of computer science, engineering and general science.


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