Microsoft sets up AI R&D center in Taiwan

Microsoft today officially inaugurated an AI (artificial intelligence) research and development center in Taiwan, initially to focus on the development of AI technologies and applications in three major aspects, including Swiftkey smart input of Chinese characters, audience intent recognition and integration of AI vertical industrial applications to help Taiwan sharpen its AI hardware and software development capabilities and establish its AI industrial ecosystems, according to Microsoft Taiwan.

Microsoft Taiwan will invest NT$1 billion (US$33.77 million) to build a 100-member AI R&D team within two years, and will double the team scale to 200 members within five years.

The inauguration of the Microsoft AI research center in Taiwan is a concrete materialization of a letter of intent signed in early December between Microsoft Taiwan and the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) under Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to build strategic partnership in three areas of AI development: big data technology, AI platform development and talent pool cultivation.

Speaking at today's inauguration, Economic Minister Shen Jung-chin said that the research center will help Taiwan incorporate Microsoft's tech research resources to nurture AI talent, develop innovative technologies and applications, and work out industrial AI solutions in line with the government's 5+2 Industrial Innovation Plan to upgrade Taiwan's overall competitiveness.

Ken Sun, general manager of Microsoft Taiwan, said Taiwan boasts strong IT hardware manufacturing prowess and a large pool of outstanding software talent, making Taiwan one of the world's best places for promoting AI-based industries. He stressed that Microsoft's vision is to popularize AI applications, enabling every individuals and enterprises to apply AI and benefit from AI applications.

According to NARLabs, Microsoft is among the world's major suppliers of big data services, with its powerful algorithm academic research engine and algorithm mechanism able to read 10 trillion papers per week and quickly offer summaries, evaluations and recommendations to provide optimal reference value for researchers. And the cooperation will allow NARLabs researchers to use the US partner's smart data search tools to pin down AI data needed for quick analysis.

Besides big data services, Microsoft will also provide AI platforms, development tools and application solutions to help inject AI innovation momentum into Taiwan's IT hardware manufacturing industry.

In nurturing AI talent, Microsoft will offer opportunities for Taiwan post-doctoral students to pursue advanced studies at its research labs in the US, and will hold workshops and competitions on AI in collaboration with MOST. Its Microsoft Professional Program will also be available for Taiwan engineers to gain technical skills and get real-world experience through a series of online courses, NARLabs sources said.