Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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IBM-MIT mega-deal brings “staggering” collection of AI research resources to bear

By David Schwartz
Published: November 14th, 2017

IBM’s nearly quarter billion dollar deal — yes, billion — around artificial intelligence research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is, both parties say, best viewed as the natural next step in their deep ongoing relationship. They’re already closely linked in AI research, so the MIT location makes sense, and IBM is already seriously into AI, so the price tag is a bit less eye-popping when viewed in that context.

The headline for MIT, in fact, is that this latest sponsored research collaboration with the multinational technology giant — announced in September — could lead to any number of spinouts, start-ups and licensing opportunities on top of the sponsored research.

The Armonk NY-based tech behemoth is putting up $240 million over 10 years to build and help staff and operate the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. The work there will carried out by upwards of 100 IBM scientists and MIT researchers and students in both the Kendall Square office complex that houses the headquarters of IBM Watson Health and IBM Security and on MIT’s nearby campus. Their mission: advance AI algorithms, software and hardware in medical data security, healthcare imaging, and technology-devised treatment plans.

According to Anantha Chandrakasan, PhD, newly named Dean of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at MIT, and the university’s lead in forging the IBM research agreement, “the new AI lab builds on a decades-long research relationship between MIT and IBM. Because we share a commitment to tackling difficult real-world problems with breakthrough innovations and a vision of developing AI technologies, we jointly established the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab over the course of the summer.”

Adds Chris Andrews, San Jose-based director of external relations at IBM Research: “IBM has long enjoyed a productive partnership with MIT, and our proven ability to solve complex technology problems together has given us the confidence to commit to a partnership of this magnitude.” He says the company is “confident that the proposals, projects and AI discoveries from the partnership will be numerous,” adding that “IBM brings in a wealth of global AI research expertise from 12 labs on five continents to this partnership with MIT.”

A detailed article on the expansive collaboration appears in the October issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, and dozens more like it in the publication’s monthly issues and online archive, CLICK HERE

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