At a time when other tech companies are scaling back on research labs, Microsoft announced Monday that it would be opening its sixth.
With no accidental proximity to both Harvard and MIT, the new Microsoft research lab will be located in Cambridge, Mass. not far from where founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen launched their empire in the 1970s. It is set to open in July.
The unequivocal reason for opening the lab in Cambridge, Mass.? According to two lab directors, it was the access to talent.
“New England is a prime location on the East Coast. If you want to hire talent, you want to go where the talent is located. It makes a lot of sense that we should have a research lab on the East Coast. New England has Harvard, MIT, Boston University, and lots of other universities. It is definitely a center of academic research,” deputy managing director of the Cambridge lab Christian Borgs said in a release.
“There’s a lot of talent we want to hire on the East Coast. There are phenomenal universities with which we want to interact. And this is especially true in certain fields of research as we move more and more toward the online world. This is the time to be doing that kind of research,” echoed lab director Jennifer Tour Chayes.
To lead the new lab, Microsoft has appointed one of its veteran researchers, Dr. Chayes, who is not only Microsoft’s first female lab director, she’s one of the first women to direct a research lab run by any U.S. corporation.
Dr. Chayes, who joined Microsoft Research in 1997, has led groups in the areas of mathematics, theoretical computer science and cryptography. She told the New York Times that although she has been courted by other research labs over the years, including Google’s, she remains content at Microsoft largely because of the intellectual freedom it offers.
“Unlike other companies with intellectual property interests to protect, she said, Microsoft does not require internal prepublication review of academic papers written by its researchers.“
Microsoft has other research labs near their Redmond, Wash. headquarters, in Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India.