Microsoft explains its commitment to basic research

Nobody can argue that basic research and development isn’t important to a company and to an economy. Technology impacts everything today, from medicine, food production, and entertainment to business operations, logistics, and marketing. Basic research is the engine that creates the ideas that lead to products, services, and processes that change our lives on a daily basis.

Microsoft Research, a division made up of over 1,000 researchers that was founded almost 25 years ago, clearly agrees. Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Research Jeannette M. Wing took some time this morning to provide an overview of the division’s research not only to Microsoft as a company, but to the greater world as well.

A strong Microsoft is vital to the livelihood and productivity of billions of users around the world who rely on Microsoft products and services. A strong Microsoft is critical to a strong U.S. economy in a time when we are facing unprecedented global competition. And a strong Microsoft allows us to look beyond the horizon in pursuit of The Next Big Thing that can improve the human condition.

Microsoft’s nearly 25-year bet on research is a way to cover all these bases, and so far, the return on that bet is paying dividends to Microsoft, our industry and our global economy.

Microsoft Research has been instrumental to the development of a number of Microsoft products and services. The machine intelligence behind Cortana and Skype Translator is heavily influenced by the work done at Microsoft Research, and the group is looking into a variety of technologies that will drive future advances, such as quantum computing and synthetic biology.

Wing goes on to discuss two reports that highlight the value of basic research and development, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream and Rising Above the Gathering Storm. Also, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella signed onto the Innovation Imperative, an initiative to compel the U.S. Congress to take a look at federal policies around STEM education and peer review.

This focus on federal involvement in basic research and development funding seems to be the ultimate focus of the blog post:

On Tuesday, October 20, I have the honor to participate in a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill to help identify key priorities for the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015. As lawmakers consider this bill, our goal should be clear: Let’s reaffirm our commitment to funding basic research, and maintaining our place as a global innovation leader, by passing a robust version of America COMPETES.

Microsoft Research has accomplished some amazing things over the last quarter-century. We’ll continue to look forward to tomorrow’s advancements as well.

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