Microsoft launches new center focused on Societal impact through Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (SCAI)

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Microsoft Research India has announced the launch of a center for Societal impact through Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (SCAI). Part of the Microsoft Research (MSR) Lab in Bengaluru, this center will focus on creating and nurturing projects that can have real-world and large-scale societal impact. Through SCAI, MSR India will collaborate with a number of partners, such as academia, startups and NGOs.

“I am excited about the creation of the center for Societal Impact through Cloud and Artificial Intelligence and I am looking forward to the efforts and collaborations ahead. There are so many opportunities to leverage recent advances in cloud computing and AI technologies to address long-term societal challenges spanning multiple sectors and realms, including health and wellness, education, transportation, and agriculture,” said Eric Horvitz, Technical Fellow and Director at Microsoft Research.

Sriram Rajamani, Managing Director of Microsoft Research India, said, “At MSR India, we have been conducting research in the ICTD space since our inception. We see SCAI as a natural evolution of this, and we will partner with like-minded collaborators to apply technology to solve some of the most pressing problems in today’s world. I am looking forward to truly impactful projects emerging from SCAI.”

SCAI will engage with NGOs, academicians and startups through external collaborations; graduate and undergraduate students through the SCAI Fellow program in collaboration; and actively seek collaborators though calls for proposals.

SCAI collaborators will be provided with financial grants, access to world-class Microsoft researchers, technologies, as well as access to business insights from Microsoft for Startups. The physical space at MSR India will enable members to exchange ideas and create a collaborative ecosystem. To start with, Microsoft is currently working with four organisations which were selected through a highly competitive RFP process:

  • Respirer Living Sciences for a project focusing on urban air pollution;
  • NIMHANS for a project on mental health;
  • Pratham Books for assisted translation system which enables children to read storybooks in multiple languages;
  • Voicedeck Technologies for Learn2Earn, a program which reinforces education and rewards learning through financial incentives.

In collaboration with Microsoft for Startups, SCAI is also working with Navana Tech which focuses on building text-free, voice assisted technology and Three Wheels United which enables scalable lending to clients in emerging markets through technology.

MSR India has, in the past, created projects such as 99 DOTS and Digital Green that are now independent entities that are addressing different societal issues.

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