Even as part of the largest industry computer science research organisation, Microsoft Research does not have a monopoly of talent or ideas, making collaboration an essential part of how we do research. Collaboration takes many forms: collaborations with industry partners, collaborations with university partners, collaborations through formal programmes, collaborations founded on an ad hoc basis.
For Andrew Herbert, Distinguished Engineer and Managing Director of Microsoft Research in Cambridge (UK), collaboration in research is crucial.
‘Institutes' play an important role in anchoring our collaborations. These are jointly funded partnerships with key research groups in Europe. Currently there are three institutes: the University of Trento, Italy based Centre for Computational and Systems Biology; the Paris based joint research centre with INRIA, the French national computer science research body; and, the most recent, a joint research centre with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain. Trento provides post graduate training and research in computational systems biology, working closely with the computational science group at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. Through Trento we are connected to other international centres in this growing field, partners in the pharmaceutical industry and links to others in European Union funded research programmes. The work at Barcelona is addressing the key question of how we can export massively parallel ‘many core' processor systems.
Formal collaboration programmes also include support for ‘Intellectual Capital Development' in the form of PhD studentships, but also including support for research workshops, post graduate schools and the European Microsoft Award which recognises each year an outstanding European contribution to computational science.
Collaboration with others is practised by all of our Cambridge research groups; in many cases we provide our partners with financial support for research infrastructure, post doctoral fellowships and PhD studentships. Often our researchers coauthor papers with academic colleagues and help supervise PhD students. Many times this leads to academics joining us as ‘visiting researchers' to work more closely with us here in Cambridge. Students often appear as PhD interns and in due course as candidates for post doctoral research positions. These relationships help us build a network with the academic community, taking part in setting the academic research agenda. The number of our senior and principal researchers who have achieved significant recognition by academic and professional bodies and those who serve on academic advisory boards testifies to our success in this respect.