Cambridge Gates open

June 20, 1997

CAMBRIDGE University pro-vice chancellor Roger Needham will head Microsoft's new Pounds 50 million research centre in Cambridge, to cement a "special relationship" between the university and the American software giant.

After widespread speculation, Microsoft finally confirmed this week that it has chosen Cambridge as the home of its first research laboratory outside the US.

Microsoft's chief technology officer, Cambridge alumnus Nathan Myhrvold, said he wanted to create a "home in Cambridge for those world-class researchers based in Europe".

Cambridge vice chancellor Alec Broers said he was proud that the company had "chosen Cambridge from the large number of outstanding universities around Europe to forge a special relationship".

He added: "Academics like Professor Needham are what has attracted Microsoft. He will establish a team for Microsoft in close collaboration with the researchers at the university's computer laboratory."

Professor Broers said that Cambridge will be making its own investments as part of the plans.

"We will be looking at building a new university computer laboratory," he said. "I'm investing both land and money. But what we really gain from this is the ability we seek to work with the top research teams in the world."

The new Microsoft lab, on an interim site in the town centre, will be "open for business in a month or two", Professor Needham said. He expects the lab to recruit 25 researchers in the first year, who will teach at the university and mentor Cambridge PhD students.

Microsoft will also set up a European Technical Advisory Board of international researchers to advise its laboratory team. Roger Milner, head of Cambridge's computer department, has already been appointed to the board.

Margaret Beckett, President of the Board of Trade, welcomed Microsoft's pledge to invest an additional Pounds 10 million, through a venture capital fund, in small technology-based companies located in the Cambridge area.

"UK universities are renowned for the quality of their research, but I particularly welcome the contribution the investment can make to the kind of community networks from which the big ideas flow," she said.

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