December 11, 2017

Microsoft Starts Own “AI University” to Fight Shortage Of Skills!

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the booming industries of today’s world. Their application has spread in almost every field including the fashion industry. Many companies are even willing to hire the new graduates by offering sky-high salaries. There’s an extremely fierce competition between the tech firms to hire the best talent.


But the major drawback in developing AI is the lack of skilled developers. To address this issue Microsoft has decided to start an own internal university to develop the talent. The company named it as AI University which is an internal education programme to develop the talent by upskilling the internal Microsoft staff.

“We have a thing called AI University, which is an internal education programme so that people who are incredibly smart and capable but trained in a different domain can quickly learn about machine learning both in a foundational sense but also in a practical sense of how to use it,” said Chris Bishop, the director of a Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge to Business Insider.

chris bishop

Microsoft’s talent hunting also involves searching for potential talent at AI conferences and sponsoring scholarships to university students if they agreed to take the job at their company after studying. Microsoft currently offering scholarships to around 200 Ph.D. at Cambridge University, significantly more than other companies like Google.

“We try to work with them [universities] to fuel that talent pipeline,” said Bishop. “So for example, we’re a major sponsor of a masters programme at Cambridge University.”

“One of the things we’re trying to avoid doing is simply going to a university, hoovering up all the top professors and then just leaving tumbleweed blowing down the corridors,” he said.

“That might be a short-term fix for some companies but I don’t think it serves even the industry itself very well, let alone academia or the nation, to take that rather short-term view.”


The list of Microsoft’s competitors that also set up research offices in Cambridge includes Amazon, Apple Deepmind( owned by Google ), Twitter, Facebook and many others. AI has become the core of almost every company and even a small advance in areas like speech recognition and image search could have a big impact on the company’s turnover. The AI departments in these companies are earning over £1 million a year.

Google’s Deepmind is offering AI researchers an average salary of  $345,000 (£258,000) in 2016. Many researchers even left the Oxford and Cambridge universities over last few years to get a better pay for the offers made by Deepmind.

We have to see if the Microsoft’s strategy will succeed in the end. Afterall, it is worth leaving no stone to be left unturned.

What do you think? Is it a smart move made by Microsoft to compete in the race of Artificial Intelligence? Share your views in the comments below!

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