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Intel Labs Picks Stanford for New R&D Research Investment Model

Chip maker Intel is stepping up its R&D funding to American universities by up to five times what it currently invests. The company announced plans to pour $100 million directly into university research in the United States over the next five years to engage institutions in projects that align with its own long-term interests in visual computing, mobility, security and embedded solutions. The first recipient will be Stanford University.

The "Science and Technology Center," as it's called, provides a new model for Intel that will enable it to be more nimble in its academic research investments. Until now, the company's labs ran open collaboration centers near research universities, and funding was spent to operate, maintain, and staff these facilities. The new centers, while Intel-funded, will be jointly led by Intel and university researchers. The approach is intended to put more money into the hands of the researchers and to encourage them to take on research of direct interest to Intel.

Also, according to Intel Fellow and Director of Academic Programs & Research, Shekhar Borkar, Intel hopes to woo the next generation of researchers. "One of our aims is to really encourage, and provide the means by which, young up-and-coming researchers will go to graduate school and eventually decide on a long-term career at Intel," he wrote in an Intel blog.

Each center will be located in a leading U.S. university and will focus on a specific technology area or discipline. That leading school will be at the center of a "hub and spoke" model to engage partner institutions, bringing together a community of top researchers across the country. The funding for each center will last for three years with an option by Intel to renew for up to two additional years. Participating schools are expected to pursue matching grants from other sources, such as federal agencies.

To keep lines of communication open between academic and industry researchers, each center will report to the Intel Labs research division most closely aligned with the research objectives of the center. Research staff will consist primarily of university faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate student interns, and undergraduate researchers. In addition, Intel will fund and support in each center up to four Intel researchers who will either be located at the participating university campuses or will operate from an Intel site and commute to the center. Each sponsoring Intel research division will also host the post-docs, interns, and visiting faculty members during engagements at Intel.

While the new model will be tested out initially at Stanford, the company expects to build five centers this year. The California institution will be opening up a center with a focus on improving the visual computing experience for consumers and professionals. The work at Stanford will also involve researchers from seven other universities working on innovations in the quality of images and the way they're captured or created, manipulated, interpreted, and ultimately displayed.

"Intel Labs has long been a significant investor in university research and this program is the next step in that critical investment," said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer. "The pace of technology change is getting faster. With today's announcement we are ensuring that Intel Labs' academic research support is adaptable and flexible. Our new approach should allow us to quickly and dynamically invest in the most promising academic work."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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