Monday, April 6, 2009

Microsoft Begins Alliance with Georgia Electronic Design Center

Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC), the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GEcDev) and Microsoft Research announced a two-year research alliance focused on RF-DNA, a novel technology for radio-frequency identification (RFID). The alliance was kicked off at GEDC’s annual Spring Industry Review at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Under the alliance, Microsoft Research is investing $600,000 over two years. The new lab’s work, which is based on intellectual property from both partners, is providing both basic research into RFID technology and ongoing student education in the field.

“We’re extremely pleased to join Microsoft Research and our government partners to advance the growing field of RFID,” said Joy Laskar, GEDC director and Schlumberger Chair in Microelectronics in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “We believe this work will result in the development of important research with strong economic potential.”

New RFID technologies allow tiny circuits, sometimes printed on paper, to enable secure sharing of product information and other data via wireless networks at low cost. This new collaborative RF-DNA research project will be designed to enable the creation of hard-to-forge certificates of authenticity by exploring the randomness of simple objects in the RF electromagnetic domain. Advances in this area of research could have a significant and positive impact on the pharmaceutical and banking industries.

The collaborative RF-DNA research is expected to lay a foundation for the use of RFID technology in cost-efficient and highly secure pharmaceutical labeling products.

“Microsoft Research understands the important role academic research plays in driving innovation and industrial advances,” said Simon Mercer, director of Health and Wellbeing, Microsoft External Research. “We are delighted to support the Georgia Electronic Design Center’s endeavors in RFID and RF-DNA research to advance not only high-end computer science, but industrial initiatives as well, ultimately helping to tackle some of world’s most challenging societal problems.”

In welcoming the Microsoft partnership, Laskar paid tribute to the support that GEDC has received from its state of Georgia partners: the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) and the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GEcDev).

"GRA has funded basic research studies at GEDC through its Market Developing Program for the past three years,” Laskar said. “That program has the specific objective of producing research that will bring new business partners to Georgia, and we’re delighted that Microsoft has joined our list of partner companies.”

In addition, he added, “the continuing support for our activities that GEDC has received from the Georgia Department of Economic Development has been key to bringing this new RF-DNA Laboratory to Georgia and in recruiting this great company to the city of Atlanta.”

Susan G. Shows, senior vice president of GRA, said her organization is gratified by the Microsoft-GEDC agreement.

“This partnership is a strong instance of the supportive effects that the current GRA-GEDC Market Developing Program is having on Georgia’s economic outlook,” Shows said. “This is the kind of innovation-driven economic development that generates high-value companies and high-wage jobs.”

Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, noted that GEDC’s accomplishments are demonstrating economic pull on a national and international scale.

“In Georgia, we place a high value on our public-private partnerships,” said Stewart. “GEDC has forged a partnership and established research cooperation with Microsoft Research, as it has with some 50 other corporate and government members. These activities are proof that the success of a state’s economy is tied to effective utilization of its university intellectual property.”

Laskar and GEDC Associate Director Manos Tentzeris will be co-principal investigators on the RFID and RF-DNA research project. Work will be conducted at the new RF-DNA Laboratory, located at GEDC’s headquarters in the Technology Square Research Building at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

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