How Microsoft Contributed to the Rapid Growth of China’s Silicon Valley in High Tech Clusters

Excerpt from an article published in The New York Times.

“Robert O. Work (veteran defense official) asked his A.I. dudes, “O.K., you guys are the smartest guys in A.I., right?”

No, the dudes told him, “the smartest guys are at Facebook and Google,” Mr. Work recalled in an interview.

Now, increasingly, they’re also in China. The United States no longer has a strategic monopoly on the technology (referring to artificial intelligence).”

Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) – Microsoft’s fundamental research arm in the Asia Pacific region, was founded in Beijing China in 1998. MSRA has published over 1,500 papers for top international journals and conferences. MSRA was named the “hottest computer lab” by MIT Technology Review in 2004.

As described in Wikipedia: MSRA operates under a mission of advancing the state of the art in computing through a combination of basic and applied research. More than 300 research results have been transferred to Microsoft products, including Windows, Office, Bing, Xbox, Kinect, and Windows Phone.

Kai-Fu Lee (李开复), Founder of Sinovation Ventures

The first Managing Director of Microsoft Research China was Mr. Kai-Fu Lee – innovator of the world’s first speaker-independent, continuous speech recognition system, known as Sphinx. No mention of MSRA is complete without referencing to Mr. Lee.

In year 2005, Mr. Lee moved on to Google as the Founding President of Google China. And in 2009, Mr. Lee founded Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital that invest in start-ups in China and in the U.S., at seed, Series A and Series B stages. Nearly half of Sinovation Ventures recent investments have been in artificial intelligence.

Source of portrait photo: Mr. Lee’s LinkedIn profile

Ya-Qin Zhang (张亚勤), President of Baidu

Mr. Kai-Fu Lee played a pivotal role in convincing Mr. Ya-Qin Zhang‘s return to China. An IEEE academician, Mr. Zhang was appointed as Managing Director of MSRA in 2001, and led the R&D of Microsoft’s Mobile and Embedded products from 2004-2006. In 2006, Mr. Zhang was appointed as Microsoft’s Corp. Vice President and the Chairman of Microsoft Asia-Pacific R&D Group to lead Microsoft’s entire R&D efforts in Asia Pacific. Besides the shipping of WinCE and Windows Mobile 5.0, Mr. Zhang also involved in the development of cloud computing (today’s Azure) and big data platforms.

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