January 12, 2018 6:30 am JST

Microsoft to pour $33m into Taiwanese AI research center

US giant will form local team of over 200 and look into industrial applications

KENSAKU IHARA, Nikkei staff writer

Microsoft's David Ku, right, and Taiwanese Premier William Lai, second from right, at a Taipei press conference on Jan. 10.

TAIPEI -- American computing company Microsoft has announced plans for an artificial-intelligence hub in Taiwan, pledging to invest 1 billion New Taiwan dollars ($33.7 million) over two years in an effort authorities hope will help advance a shift in the local tech sector.

Assembling a research and development team of more than 200 over five years, the center will aim to devise new applications for the technology and new businesses based on it. Microsoft intends to tap Taiwan's highly skilled professionals, said David Ku, corporate vice president for AI, in a news conference Wednesday.

The research center will work in such areas as voice recognition and anticipating the desires of search engine users to suggest answers quickly. It will work to simultaneously bring more industry to AI and vice versa, Ku said.

The center will also cooperate with Taiwanese authorities, who hope AI will further change in a tech sector long reliant on such "hard" business as contract manufacturing of information technology devices.

Taiwan will be generous with its support for the center, said Premier William Lai, who also attended the news conference. The Ministry of Science and Technology aims to invest NT$16 billion in such goals as establishing AI development centers at universities over the next five years.

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