October 29, 2013
Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center is Newest Addition to Cambridge
By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer
Microsoft (News - Alert) seems to have an interest in Massachusetts these days, as the company is bringing a new fixture to Cambridge in the form of the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center. With this center in mind, Microsoft will at last report not only step up its involvement with Massachusetts, but also introduce some new connections to the region and help better bring together the various political and business stakeholders in the region.
Located in Cambridge's Kendall Square, the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center will focus on improving innovation in the region by helping to step up the conversion from research to real-world applications. Moreover, the Center looks to get in on the political arena as well, at least somewhat, helping to introduce new policy to the region that gives innovation in the area a bit of a leg up. A decent proposition in its own right, but Microsoft isn't coming to this particular table empty-handed, providing a three year grant valued at $350,000 to the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council's Education Foundation.
Said grant is offered with an eye toward boosting computer science studies in schools, a move that the foundation's executive director, Heather Carey, is quite clearly excited about. Carey remarked: “This is going to really help us start mobilizing industry even more. I can't even tell you what this means to the education foundation.”
Microsoft's associate general counsel, Annmarie Levins, also offered some comment on a blog post, indicating the center's plans to bring together several of the area's “key stakeholders from the technology, broader business, academic and government communities” to better focus on “issues that are byproducts or unintended consequences of technological advancements.” Levins will be in charge of the center, so she's well-placed to sum up its intentions.
This is a move that likely comes at a good time for Microsoft. With the market starting to shift away from desktop PCs and laptops to tablets and smartphones, Microsoft's bread-and-butter platforms are likewise starting to shift away as well. While it's certainly not going to pull the rug out from under Microsoft—at least not any time soon; such moves generally take a while to accomplish—it may well prove the kind of thing that gives Microsoft a valuable shot in the arm in terms of access to development, and developers.
If Microsoft can start early, getting in on the next crop of computer science graduates, it may well be able to get access to better products and products more in keeping with what users want. Microsoft hasn't exactly had the best time of things as far as its own mobile devices go; having come late to the party was one thing, but proving that the Surface and Windows Phone lines are a better proposition than iOS and Android (News - Alert) equivalents has at least been seen as a tough sale. But the more research that Microsoft can have a hand in, the more innovations it can be close to, and the better prospect the company can present going forward.
Edited by Alisen Downey