Microsoft’s AI for Health pledges $20m to Covid-19 pandemic



Eric Horvitz, Microsoft’s chief scientific officer Eric Horvitz

Microsoft’s AI for Health has pledged $20 million in the global fight against Covid-19 and has opened applications for grant proposals from non-profits, academia and governments looking to tap the funds

The fund is available through the firm’s AI for Health initiative – which launched in January with a five-year commitment – and is the latest in a series of developments from Microsoft.

On its application website, Microsoft said: “This grant program provides Azure cloud and High-Performance Computing capabilities. Our team of AI for Health data science experts, whose mission is to improve the health of people and communities worldwide, is also open to collaborations with COVID-19 researchers as they tackle this critical challenge. More broadly, Microsoft’s research scientists across the world, spanning computer science, biology, medicine, and public health, will also be available to provide advice and collaborate per mutual interest.”

The firm’s work to support Covid-19 research covers five focus areas:

• Data and insights 

• Treatment and diagnostics

• Allocation of resources

• Dissemination of accurate information

• Scientific research

Eric Horvitz, Microsoft’s chief scientific officer, said: “Data and computation will help light the path to mitigating the pandemic. We’re passionate about aiming our computing resources and expertise at empowering those with the most promising directions, including efforts in biomedicine, logistics, epidemiology and public health.”


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Proposals, which must be fewer than three pages, should cover the proposed scientific/ technical goal of the project, the IT and other resources required and team composition and preparedness.

Of the initiative, Microsoft said in a statement: “We are tackling some of the toughest challenges in health by collaborating with non-profits and researchers and providing access to AI and expertise.”

Microsoft’s work to tackle Covid-19 has spanned such CSR initiatives as assistance with the supply of PPE for healthcare workers, ensuring the pay of hourly workers in the US, and tech and cloud support for non-profits, through Tech for Social Impact. The firm also donated $1 million to the Covid-19 response fund of Puget Sound, Washington state.  

Industry partnerships include the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium; The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; The Washington State Department of Health; Folding@home; Take; and The Sepsis Center of Research Excellence (SCORE-UW).

Among the other initiatives underway, AI for Health is also working on finding new cures, advancing scientific discovery, addressing SIDS, eliminating leprosy, preventing blindness from diabetic retinopathy, collaborative research and health equity.

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