Microsoft Azure for Research

Microsoft Azure for Research

About

Cloud computing lets you spend more time on your research, providing all the computing you need, exactly when you need it

Whether it’s a computer with more memory, a cluster with thousands of cores, a big data platform, an internet of things solution, or open-source machine learning at scale, you can achieve more using the cloud. Microsoft Azure for Research awards offer large allocations of cloud computing for your research project, and already supports hundreds of researchers worldwide across all domains.

Special request for proposals: Internet of Things

The Azure for Research program is offering cloud computing resource grants to researchers and scientists who continue to explore emerging challenges, basic research, and new applications related to the ubiquitous devices and networking that comprise the Internet of Things (IoT). Learn more >

“Azure for me was perfect. I could scale my compute capability with my current computational needs. What is also great is that as we didn’t have to outlay any capital investment in a particular architecture I could also change up the physical makeup of my cluster as required. I can set up a whole new cluster with just a few lines of script code. You are of course also admin on your cluster which gave me ultimate flexibility to instantly install and update whatever tools and software I needed, or just wanted to test out.”
Simon O’Hanlon, Imperial College London

Azure in action

Researchers around the world are using Microsoft Azure to enable them to accelerate their research. Find out more:

If you are using Microsoft Azure for a cloud-based research project and would like to share your story, we would love to tell the world.  So please let us know if you’re presenting at a conference, publishing a paper, or want to let the community know what great work you are doing. Email us at azurerfp@microsoft.com.

Apply

Microsoft Azure can help you do your research better, bigger, and faster. Our awards program provides access to significant amounts of cloud computing resources for a year, so you can easily experiment and scale up your project quickly to achieve more. Submitting a short proposal is easy, and you will receive a decision within four weeks. This is an ongoing program, with proposals evaluated every two months.

General requests for proposals

We welcome proposals from researchers in any discipline, and are looking for projects that can take advantage of the cloud to help accelerate their work. Microsoft Azure provides an open, flexible, global platform that supports multiple programming languages, tools, and frameworks including: Linux, Python, Java, Hadoop, and the Microsoft .NET Framework. It offers easy-to-use capabilities for using Hadoop and Spark (HDInsight), Azure Machine Learning (supporting your own Python and R code, as well as Jupyter notebooks), IoT Hub, and stream analytics platforms.

We are especially interested in research proposals that utilize multiple Azure services (ie. Web Apps, Mobile Apps, Data Analytics, Cortana Analytics Services, HPC, etc) as part of their investigation or solution.

Special requests for proposals

In addition to our general requests for proposals, we are also interested in proposals with a focus in the following areas:

Submit your proposal

We welcome applications from Faculty, researchers, and graduate students affiliated with an academic institution or non-profit research laboratory.

Step 1: Ensure that your proposal meets the following requirements:

  • Length: Does not exceed three pages in length
  • Language: Must be written in English
  • Include: The research problem you are working on and why it is important.
    How you will use Microsoft Azure and resource requirement estimates (e.g., number of core, storage requirements) for your project
  • Title: Proposal titles must begin with the corresponding key phrase for identification purposes
    • “Internet of Things”
    • “Public Health”
    • “Data Science”
    • “CDI”

Step 2: Go to the online submission tool.

Step 3: Submit by the deadline. Proposals are considered in even-numbered months (February, April, June, August, October, and December).

For more details about how to produce a good proposal, see our FAQ.

Award program eligibility

To qualify for our awards program, applicants must be affiliated with an academic institution or non-profit research laboratory. In addition to individual investigator projects, we are interested in projects that will support access to services and projects that exemplify valued data to a collaboration or community.

Access Azure resources

In addition to the research awards, there are several other ways to access free Microsoft Azure resources. These include a free 30-day trial available on the Microsoft Azure portal. Students can get free access to Azure through our Dreamspark program.

FAQ

Azure for Research award program FAQ

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Microsoft Azure for Research award program and the proposal submission process.

When are proposals due for each program?

Proposals are due on the 15th of even-numbered months (February, April, June, August, October, and December).

Why are there different types of Microsoft Azure for Research awards?

Different award types represent unique areas of research such as data science, public health or climate research. The submission process and award grants are currently identical, and just select the appropriate program on the menu when submitting your proposal online.

What is a Microsoft account?

Your Microsoft account (previously called Windows Live ID) is the combination of an email address and a password that you use to sign in to services like Outlook.com, Skype, OneDrive, or Xbox LIVE. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, it is easy to create one—and it’s free. You can even create a Microsoft account that can be used by your entire research team to access your Azure resources.

I am a student. Do I qualify for a Azure for Research award?

The awards are for research projects. Faculty, research staff members, graduate students, and postdocs are qualified to submit proposals. Undergraduate and Masters students require a faculty supervisor to submit a proposal if it part of an ongoing research program.

I am teaching a class that will use Azure for class projects. Do I qualify?

Unfortunately, this program does not provide Azure for teaching and education.

What does a good proposal look like?

Proposals are short (a couple of pages), so we are looking for concise descriptions that include the following:.

  • Project summary. We are particularly interested in projects where researchers are making use of higher-level Azure services such as machine learning, HDInsight, and IoT Hub (i.e. Not just virtual machines and storage). You can see what is available at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/
  • Impact. Will this award be of significant benefit to a community of users, either within a discipline or organization. Will it push science forwards? It should be a single project/theme, not a whole group’s activities. List collaborators who you will work with, and/or use your service. Also include how will it be disseminated, beyond academic publications, e.g. open-source solution
  • Resources. Do you have resources (people/effort) in place to complete the project successfully? The award is only for Azure resources (compute, storage, bandwidth, etc), not for people. The size of the awards are large. A request for 20 TB of storage and 200,000 hours of compute time is reasonable. A request for 1 GB of storage and 20 hours of compute time is too small for an award.

You do not need to include a CV/resume, previous results, grants, or bibliographic items in your proposal and no special formatting is required.  If you are completely unfamiliar with cloud computing and Azure, we recommend that you try our hands-on labs.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure provides an open, flexible, global platform that supports multiple programming languages, tools, and frameworks including: Linux, Python, Java, Hadoop, and the Microsoft .NET Framework. It offers easy-to-use capabilities for using Hadoop and Spark (HDInsight), Azure Machine Learning (supporting your own Python and R code, as well as Jupyter notebooks), IoT Hub, and stream analytics platforms.  You can see what is available at Azure Services.

What sort of projects are you looking for?

We are looking for projects that will advance the state of research by using Azure. These projects may be individual scientific investigations or activities that support a research discipline by hosting data and data access and analysis services. We are excited by original ideas. We are thrilled by projects that make cloud-based open source tools available to the community. View examples of successful projects on our about tab under ‘Azure in action’.

What are things to avoid in my proposal?

We are not interested in benchmarking exercises. View examples of successful projects on our about tab under ‘Azure in action’.

Will you limit awards to one per university?

Not at all, quite the opposite. Some universities may generate many good proposals that will be funded, creating a community of Azure users in the university.

I work for a start-up that came from a university project. Do I qualify?

No, but you may qualify for the BizSpark program.

I work for a nonprofit research lab. Do I qualify?

Yes. If you are uncertain about your qualifications, send email to azurerfp@microsoft.com.

Learn

Azure for Research hands-on labs

The hands-on labs are intended to familiarize researchers and data scientists with the services Azure offers to aid them in their research, especially with regard to high-performance computing, big-data analysis, and analyzing data streaming from Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices.

Hands-on Labs

Our hands-on labs are detailed walk-throughs, and you can download the material and work through it yourself. The labs are available under an open license. Feel free to re-use this material for your own courses, and please let us know if you are using it.

On-demand videos

Watch our online training videos developed to provide a core curriculum for scientists interested in using Microsoft Azure for research. We recommend watching them in sequence from 1 to 6.

Our one-hour, interactive online sessions on Microsoft Azure have been turned into a great webinar video series. The webinars were designed to help you understand the value and capabilities of cloud computing and how you can use it for your research in practical ways.

Interested in Azure Machine Learning? Access tutorials that’ll help with everything from setting up your first predictive analytics experiment, to publishing results, to creating a complete machine learning solution.

Technical papers

We offer a selection of technical papers to help researchers quickly start working with Azure. The papers cover a range of topics from ‘Getting started with Azure’ to ‘Azure Virtual Machines’ to ‘Azure Cloud Services’. Some prior technical computing skills are assumed. Read our technical papers with instructions on using Azure features.

Azure IaaS for IT pros

Learn Microsoft Azure from the experts—and at no financial cost to you. These Microsoft Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) training courses cover key technical topics for IT pros and developers, including Azure Virtual Machines and virtual networks. In addition, IT pros can gain insight into platform-as-a-service (PaaS) implementation, including using PowerShell for automation and management, using Active Directory, migrating from on-premises to cloud infrastructure, and important licensing information. Enroll in our Azure training courses and discover the advantages of cloud computing with Microsoft Azure.