Microsoft Research announced the first global request for proposal (RFP) for academic research in the domain of Digital Inclusion.  The $1.2 million funding opportunity seeks to empower academic researchers worldwide to tackle technological challenges to positively impact health, education and socio-economic conditions in underserved areas.  The potential for impact in this area is huge: approximately 80% of the world’s population earn less than $4,000/year and remain largely untouched by the IT revolution.   The relevance that research projects can have in this area is significant.  The RFP encourages academic researchers to explore how technologies such as mobile devices, cellular phones and networking can unlock the potential of people throughout the globe by making computing affordable, accessible and relevant.

Microsoft Research is accepting Digital Inclusion proposals from Nov. 7, 2005, through Jan. 13, 2006. Funding recipients will be notified Feb. 10, 2006. Proposals should reflect a commitment to make all results stemming from a funded project, including the intellectual property within those results, broadly available in either the public domain or under a nonrestrictive license. Full text and Submission guidelines are available at http://research.microsoft.com/ur/us/fundingopps

This year’s Digital Inclusion RFP encourages academic research projects designed to achieve fundamental breakthroughs in areas such as:
·          Creative new infrastructures, form factors, and applications of mobile devices.
·          Connectivity, particularly in environments without existing network infrastructures or intermittent availability to networking and power.
·          Appropriate user interfaces to address challenges in literacy and novice users of technology.
·          Culturally relevant technology applications for computing.

Microsoft Research remains committed to collaborating with worldwide research academics to tackle broad, fundamental computing challenges that have the ability to make a broad impact, such as digital inclusion.

If you decide to submit a project, please cc jowarren@microsoft.com  on your response.