Brussels, 28 Apr 2004
Microsoft officially opened its European Microsoft Innovation Centre (EMIC) in Germany on 26 April, representing an effort to collaborate with European universities and business on projects orientated more towards basic science than development.
The establishment of the research centre, which took place earlier this year, makes the company eligible to take part in EU funded projects.
In a statement, Microsoft explained that 'EMIC was created to participate in European research and development [R&D], which responds to the EC's call for additional private investment to reach the goal of the Lisbon agenda: to become the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.'
EMIC, which is based in Aachen, will conduct research into web services, security and private technologies and wireless technology. It will focus on three areas, namely: enterprise computing, embedded devices and the extended home.
The centre currently has 12 scientists from seven different European countries, with another eight to be recruited soon. A Microsoft spokesperson explained in an interview that these are scientists and not product developers. 'The real differentiator is that it's collaborative,' he said.
He added that the aim of EMIC is to incorporate their work into commercial projects. 'The collective efforts will ultimately transfer into products that resolve high-priority issues for citizens and businesses in Europe.'
'The European Microsoft Innovation Centre (EMIC) is unique for Microsoft in terms of a research centre in the sense that it's about incubating technology and about collaborating with other third parties, such as academia and industry partners,' said Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft's Chief Executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Industry partners, universities and provincial governments are already participating in the EMIC effort and Microsoft is looking into collaborative efforts with the German government.
EMIC is already participating in projects funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). For example, it is involved in a healthcare project called 'Cocoon', aimed at creating network communities within healthcare systems while improving risk-management approaches.
Other projects involve web services for e-health, e-learning, security and privacy and network technologies. 'This is an extension of our research development capabilities in Europe,' Mr Courtois said. 'It is an extra commitment on our side to be part of the development community in Europe.'
According to Mr Courtois, Microsoft has one of the highest R&D budgets in the industry, investing 20 per cent of its revenue, nearly seven billion dollars worldwide in 2004, in R&D.