By Lauly Li / Staff reporter
Microsoft Corp yesterday announced the launch of an artificial intelligence （AI） research and development （R&D） center in Taiwan, and the company’s aim of hiring and training more than 200 researchers and developers in the next five years to boost the nation’s AI industry.
The Microsoft AI R&D Center is the first foreign-business-backed center to focus on AI technology in the nation.
“Microsoft would like to contribute to Taiwan’s industry upgrade. We will do our best to help Taiwan acquire a strategic position in the global AI landscape,” Microsoft Taiwan general manager Ken Sun （孫基康） told a news conference at the US company’s office in Taipei.
Sun said the reason Microsoft chose to build the center in Taiwan is because the nation’s education system has cultivated a lot of talent in mathematics, engineering and the sciences.
Taiwan’s leading position and capability in the global manufacturing industry, as well as the government’s support, prompted Microsoft to launch the project here, he said.
“The government really appreciates Microsoft’s help in developing Taiwan’s AI industry. The government will give full support to Microsoft’s project here,” Premier William Lai （賴清德） said at the news conference.
Sun said the company is to invest NT$1 billion （US$33.78 million） and foster 100 people in the R&D team in the first two years.
The center’s capacity would continue to grow and Microsoft aims to recruit 200 people within five years, he added.
Microsoft Taiwan marketing and operating head Jason Tsao （趙質忠） said the company is to start a campus recruitment tour between March and April.
Tsao said the R&D center is also to develop industry-specific applications, focusing mainly on the AI-augmented keyboard application SwiftKey, Audience Intent Recognition and sharing some of Microsoft’s AI technology with Taiwanese firms.
Tsao said by collaborating with firms in the manufacturing sector, Microsoft would be able to understand the application needs of those companies, and help them to transform and restructure with AI.
Microsoft said the R&D center would complement the Microsoft IoT Innovation Center to accelerate innovation in Taiwanese industries.
The Microsoft AI R&D Center represents the firm’s latest efforts regarding AI projects in Taiwan.
In September last year it launched the “AI Talent Cultivation Project” with Taipei Medical University. It also inked an “AI Strategic Alliance” letter of intent with the National Applied Research Laboratories last month.