With new tech center and high profile event, Microsoft further cements ties with Israel

Microsoft is increasing its involvement in Israeli technology by opening a new research center, as executives view the latest on offer from Israeli start-ups

Rick Rashid, Microsoft’s chief research officer (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Rick Rashid, Microsoft’s chief research officer (Photo credit: Courtesy)

The ties between Microsoft and Israel are set to expand in the wake of several announcements and events involving the company and Israeli start-ups. Just weeks after announcing that it was opening a new technology accelerator in Tel Aviv, it was reported that Microsoft was initiating a new Technology Center (MTC) in the city of Ra’anana, in central Israel. The MTC will be one of a few dozen Microsoft has around the world, and will further cement the strong ties between the company and Israeli high-tech.

The technology accelerator was established to encourage start-ups to develop new technologies. Those accepted into the Windows Azure Accelerator program will receive office space, training, mentoring, financial and additional assistance, depending on the product or service being developed. The Azure accelerator is a world first for Microsoft, and gives start-ups an opportunity to partner with one of the most successful technology companies in the world, while giving Microsoft a let-up in discovering hot new technologies that will benefit the company.

Both announcements coincide with what has turned into one of the largest technology events in Israel – Microsoft’s Think Next event, to be held later this month in Tel Aviv. This year’s Think Next will be the fourth to be held by MS Israel, bringing together dozens of start-ups, which will show off their technologies and ideas to over 4,000 expected participants, including investors and top IT professionals. Several dozen top MS officials will also be in attendance, including Qi-Lu, President of Microsoft’s Online Services Division, who will be speaking at the event. Other speakers include Gurdeep Singh Pall, MS Corporate Vice President for Information Platform & Experience, JP Wollersheim, Kinect for Windows Group Product Manager, and Reginald Hutcherson, Senior Director of Windows Phone Developer Outreach At Nokia.

Altogether, 25 of Microsoft’s top executives will be at Think Next, with the delegation led by Rick Rashid, Microsoft’s chief research officer. Rashid is responsible for the Microsoft Research group, one of the biggest research groups of any tech company, with 800 professionals working in six research labs worldwide, including in Israel. The team will get a first-hand look at the technologies being presented by over 40 Israeli start-ups at the Think Next Demo Fest.

And as if Think Next wasn’t enough, MS is also sponsoring an event called Be Next, where a number of IT solutions will be on display, including a preview of the Windows 8 consumer OS, Windows Server 8, and SQL Server 2012. Here, too, dozens of companies working in the field of databases and other technologies will be presenting products and services, with a view to partnering with Microsoft. Tzachi Weisfeld, the strategy and business development manager at the Microsoft Israel development center, certainly hopes that MS will be able to find some new partners and technologies at Think Next. “This event is a chance for start-ups to really make their mark,” Weisfeld said, adding that “perhaps together we can do wonderful things.”

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