A new partnership has been sealed between Microsoft Corp. and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to support research and innovation in smart technologies. Microsoft Corp. will donate more than $1 million to UWM's Connected Systems Institute, which brings together researchers and students from UWM's College of Engineering & Applied Science and the College of Business to advance the use of smart technology in manufacturing and the business world. Connected Systems Institute was launched in November 2017 with a $1.7 million investment from Rockwell Automation.
The institute will also have access to Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing and data storage software, and several Surface Hub interactive whiteboards. The partnership also aims to build opportunities for Microsoft employees to work with faculty and students at UWM to support research, innovation and training around smart devices.
The Connected Systems Institute "is fundamentally about all of the smart devices ... and this is just going to become a huge part of the world," Microsoft President Brad Smith told the Journal Sentinel. "Current estimates are that there will be 75 billion smart devices in the world by the year 2025 — this will be a $2.7 trillion market."
The Connected Systems Institute's work focuses largely on helping businesses and manufacturers use technology to be more efficient: from creating sensor systems on factory floors that can pinpoint bottlenecks in production, to smart heating and cooling systems that can monitor themselves in real time and alert technicians before malfunctions occur.
Microsoft joins Rockwell, We Energies, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and A.O. Smith (the country's largest water heater manufacturer) as a partner in the institute.
Much of the institute's work centers on testing and making individual pieces of new technology — whether that's sensors, smart tablets or artificial intelligence tech — to build broad systems that are usable on a large scale. The work can help in the manufacturing industry, but also make home energy systems or water systems used every day more efficient, reliable and sustainable.
Smith said Microsoft hopes its investment will foster more research, strengthen the institute's work with major companies in Wisconsin and beyond and, ultimately, create jobs and train the workforce of the future.
"The real goal of all of this should be to create the next generation of jobs and this is the kind of thing that we would hope will add to economic growth in the Milwaukee area," Smith said.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel