Microsoft Africa Research Institute (MARI) Launched In Kenya

Kenya's President Kenyatta was the Guest of honour during the launch

Microsoft has launched the Microsoft Research Institute (MARI), its first in the continent. The Research Institute will be housed at the newly launched African Development Centre offices in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to the company, MARI will focus on foundational research to improve productivity in three areas: work, health, and society. As an integral part of the Office of Applied Research (OAR), it will integrate exploratory research with product development by bringing together researchers, engineers, designers, local academic institutions and the community to build talent and encourage a two-way flow of ideas.

Speaking at the Institute’s launch, Jaime Teevan, Chief Scientist for Microsoft, said: “Research has been really important to Microsoft, over the course of our existence, and it is important to our products. Digital technology is transforming work, and deep scientific innovation is required to enable productive and sustainable futures for everyone.”

Teevan added that having the research centre in Africa offers homegrown technical solutions for the market.

The research facility has already assembled a multi-disciplinary team of researchers, designers, data scientists, and software engineers. The team has completed its first scientific project on the digital transformation of African SMEs with a focus on how work practices have changed since COVID-19,  and will soon release the findings.

It also announced that three PhD fellowships have been awarded to African university students who will intern at MARI in 2022. The institute will offer a visiting researcher program, summer schools, and a venue for student projects.

Microsoft’s recent investments on the continent include the Africa Development centre, Data-centres, Policy innovation centre and evolved Equity Equivalent Investment Programme. The ADC supports Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. It is the first Global Development Centre in Africa.

Photo courtesy / PSCU

Article by Jedidah Mwangi