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Microsoft ponies up for academia

Company creates $1.2 million fund for academic research that focuses on computing for people with little access.

Microsoft has created a $1.2 million fund for academic research that focuses on putting computing into the hands of those less familiar with technology and with little access.

Under the company's Digital Inclusion program, academic researchers worldwide can use funds to find ways to make computing more affordable, accessible and relevant, the company said Thursday. The software giant is particularly interested in projects that focus on applications for mobile devices, bringing connectivity and "culturally relevant" computing applications to people in areas without existing networks.

Microsoft's funding program is the latest effort by an industry player to bolster academic research in the field of technology.

Proposals for the Digital Inclusion program will be accepted Nov. 7 through Jan. 13, with funding announcements on Feb. 10.

The software giant also debuted on Thursday its Inspire program to help finance doctorate degrees for people who emphasize computing technology and seek to improve conditions in developing regions via education, health care and economic development. The application deadline is Feb. 1; recipients will be notified in April.

The Inspire program will also include visiting researchers and lecturers. Microsoft will match universities in developing countries with researchers and lecturers from developed countries who can teach basic computer science.

"Many significant challenges remain to be solved in the push toward digital inclusion on a global scale," Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, said in a statement. "We hope these programs will encourage more researchers to pursue approaches in computing technology that advance these goals."