Microsoft Israel to challenge Google

"Activity won't be centered on a particular field. We'll let people work independantly."

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is opening its Israel Innovation Labs. The laboratory, located in Herzliya Pituah, is the only such laboratory outside the US, and will focus on applied research. The US laboratory was launched two years ago. Microsoft also announced the establishment of a new campus for its R&D center in Herzliya Pituah, where all the company's activities in central Israel will be consolidated.

Microsoft said that it would invest tens of millions of dollars in Israel Innovation Labs, which will collaborate with computer sciences departments of Israeli universities. Microsoft Israel VP R&D Yoram Yaacovi will head the lab.

In explaining the idea of the innovation lab, Yaacovi said, "Activity won't be centered on a particular field. We'll let people work independantly."

That concept resembles the activity of another Internet giant: Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), which is striving to hire Israeli manpower. Google is famous for its perks and special working condition, even if much of them are myths. Google supposedly lets its R&D staff to think freely about what they want to do and where they want to go. Microsoft wants the same promising people seeking the atmosphere of an incubator of ideas.

Another competitor, Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) will formally inaugurate its Israel's R&D center tomorrow.

Microsoft's Israel Innovation Labs currently has ten employees and plans to hire up to 20 more in the first stage. The company says that the planned projects will include online services and technologies, such as search engines, smart navigation, and advertising, as well as entertainment technologies and services. The company is also seeking new blood for the innovation lab directly from academe. The company has an agreement with Bar Ilan University, and says that it plans to establish similar collaborations with other universities. Yaakovi added that the new innovation lab could become a kind of concept incubator for entrepreneurs who sell their ideas to Microsoft.

These statements parallel Microsoft Israel's recruitment campaign to boost the staff of its R&D center to 750 persons from the current 600.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on March 10, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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