Google yesterday announced investment in a number of university research projects across the US. The University of Cambridge however is set to become the only university outside of the US to receive a grant in this round of funding.
The investment will go to Cambridge University’s green technology initiative, part of its University Computer Lab project ‘Computing for the Future of the Planet’.
Google’s funding will be spread over over three years. but exactly how much will be invested is not clear. Individual grants will range between $100,000 and $1.5 million, substantially higher than previously grants of only around $50,000 – and Cambridge will reportedly receive a “six figure” sum.
Professor Andy Hopper who heads up the Computer Lab, was full of praise for the unrestricted nature of Google’s support: “The nature of these awards, which place no restrictions or constraints on the funded research, is particularly refreshing and will help to stimulate true innovation and accelerate the development of new ideas and practical solutions.
The project has four key goals: an optimal digital infrastructure, sensing and optimising with a global world model, reliably predicting and reacting to our environment, and digital alternatives to physical activities.
Despite increased funding coming to Cambridge, some students expressed concerns about the Google’s involvement. One first-year at St Johns College expressed concern about a “massive American company getting a stronghold over students”.
He added, “It’s just another advertising ploy. It’s not a selfless piece of charity on Google’s part, is it?”
Clearly not, Google will hope and expect to reach out to the brightest of technology students as potential employees and contacts.
Interestingly, as the Guardian points out, the Cambridge Computer Lab is based in the William Gates Building, which also received “a substantial donation” from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.