Microsoft Azure for Research

Microsoft Azure for Research

About

Microsoft Azure for Research

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 provides an open, flexible, global platform that supports multiple programming languages, tools, and frameworks.

Currently open special requests for proposals

We are interested in research proposals that utilize multiple Azure services with a focus in the following areas:

Azure in action

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

Alan Turing Institute

Changing the world with data science Read more…

Alan Turing Institute

Measuring human happiness and frustration using data science in the cloud Read more…


WorldPop

Counting every person on Earth to eradicate poverty and empower women Read more…

Smart Cities

Creating intelligent water systems to unlock the potential of Smart Cities Read more…


ATLAS project

Research scientist uses Microsoft Cloud technology for high-energy physics computing Read more…

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

University of Cambridge

From cancer to crop genomics — using Research as a Service at the intersection of computers and biology Read more…


University College London

Democratizing AI to improve citizen health Read more…

University of California, Berkeley

A new understanding of the world through grassroots Data Science education at UC Berkeley Read more…


University of Rochester

Overcoming the fear of public speaking using cloud-based technology Read more…

University of Texas at Austin

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Predicting floods and improving public safety through Cortana Intelligence Suite Read more…


University of Oxford

Intelligent cloud computing lifts villages out of water poverty Read more…

University of Stirling

University of Nottingham

Untangling airports using open source tools on Microsoft Azure Read more…


University of Washington

Saving shellfish harvest by predicting ocean chemistry using Microsoft Azure Read more…

University of Washington Tacoma

Using machine learning and AI to reduce hospital readmissions Read more…

If you are using Microsoft Azure for a cloud-based research project and would like to share your story, please let us know and we will share your great work with the community.  Email us at azurerfp@microsoft.com.

Apply

Special requests for proposals

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) with a focus in the following areas:

Submit your proposal

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 to six weeks. 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
    • “AI for Earth”
    • “AI for Earth EU”
    • “Data Science”
    • “Microsoft Genomics for Research”

Step 2: Go to the online submission tool.

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 trial available on the Microsoft Azure portal. Students can get free access to Azure through our Microsoft Imagine for Students 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.

Important Note:

Each Azure for Research award provides the researcher Azure credits that can be expended for any of the available Azure services (VMs, Storage, DB, Hadoop, Spark, Containers, etc.). The research grants do not include direct monetary or cash awards.

Please note the Terms and Conditions for these sponsored accounts, and that some of the more specialized and high demand Azure services are subject to availability for these free trials.

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

Different award types represent unique areas of research such as data science, genomics, 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.

Are multi-year awards available for researchers’ or institutions’ sustained computing needs?

The Azure for Research awards are intended to allow researchers to learn about, explore, and perform initial viability assessments of the Azure Cloud Services. The awards are not intended to be long-term grants of Azure over multiple years for sustained research computing needs.

Are Azure for Research awards available in all countries?

The awards are available in all countries in which Azure is available. This list is continually growing. View a country list and the full terms and conditions here.

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 Azure 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.

I would like to acknowledge Azure4Research’s resource contribution to my research. How can I do this?

A simple acknowledgment is always appreciated. You can use the following: “Cloud computing resources were provided by a Microsoft Azure for Research award”.

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 on the online learning portal. 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.

Case studies

Changing the world with data science

Alan Turing asked the question “can machines think?” in 1950 and it still intrigues us today. At The Alan Turing Institute, the United Kingdom’s national institute for data science in London, more than 150 researchers are pursuing this question by bringing their thinking to fundamental and real-world problems to push the boundaries of data science. One year ago, The Turing first opened its doors to 37 PhD students, 117 Turing Fellows and visiting researchers, 6 research software engineers and more than 5,000…

Measuring human happiness and frustration using data science in the cloud

Emotions make us human. Researchers at The Alan Turing Institute in the United Kingdom are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to push the state of the art in data science to better understand what makes us happy, angry and frustrated. “Our research seeks to try and measure aspects of the world that we, as humans, are hugely aware of but that traditionally we’ve had near to no numbers on…

Counting every person on Earth to eradicate poverty and empower women

The number one United Nations Sustainable Development Goal is to eliminate poverty, leaving nobody behind. Researchers in the United Kingdom are harnessing the large-scale data-processing power of Microsoft Azure to map the location of every person on Earth to provide the accurate population statistics needed to achieve this international humanitarian goal. “There are about 2 billion people in the world today…

Research scientist uses Microsoft Cloud technology for high-energy physics computing

Randall Sobie is the HEP Computing Group Leader at the University of Victoria. He works on ATLAS project, a collaboration of 3,000 international physicists. The project has collected hundreds of petabytes of data and Randall’s team faced the challenge of storing and accessing information on-premise. With the help of Microsoft Azure, Randall created a flexible cloud…

Creating intelligent water systems to unlock the potential of Smart Cities

The newspaper headlines about “Bangalore’s looming water crisis” have been ominous, with one urban planning expert proclaiming that Bangalore will become “unlivable” in a few years because of water scarcity. This is a critical issue that threatens the future of one of India’s fastest-growing cities. In fact, water availability is a cause for worry in the entire country. According to an estimate by The Asian Development…

Democratizing AI to improve citizen health

Doctors make life-saving — and life-changing — decisions every day. But how do they know that they are making the best decisions? Can artificial intelligence (AI) help? “Before evidence-based medicine, decision-making in health care was heavily reliant on the expertise and knowledge of the health professional, usually a doctor. What has happened in the last 20, 30 years is that the health…

Cloud computing changes the way we practice public speaking

People often rank public speaking as the number one fear that they face. New cloud-based technology from researchers at the University of Rochester lets speakers polish and practice at home in front of their computer camera, while the analysis provides instant feedback about improvement. Leading this effort known as ROC Speak is M. Ehsan Hoque, an assistant professor of…

Preventing flood disasters with Cortana Intelligence Suite

On October 31, 2013, the city of Austin, Texas, faced a destructive flood. At the time, I was visiting David Maidment, Chaired Professor of the Civil Engineering Center for Research in Water Resources on site at the University of Texas at Austin. The day before the flood, we had been discussing research and analytics around the long-standing drought conditions across western Texas. Overnight…

Securing safe water through Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud

Jacob Katuva used to get up at dawn to cycle 12 miles from his village to collect water with his uncles and cousins when he was growing up in Kenya. Now he is part of a research team at the University of Oxford using cloud computing and mobile sensors to monitor water wells and help ensure that thousands of villages in rural Africa and Asia have a safe, secure supply of water. Millions of people across the world fear not having…

Predicting ocean chemistry using Microsoft Azure

Shellfish farmer Bill Dewey remembers the first year he heard of ocean acidification, a phrase that means a change in chemistry for ocean water. It was around 2008, and Dewey worked for Taylor Shellfish, a company that farms oysters in ocean waters off the coast of Washington. That year, thousands of tiny “seed” oysters died off suddenly. Today, a cloud-based predictive system from the University of Washington…

All that RaaS: saving lives and transforming healthcare economics

Stuart, a 66-year-old man with diabetes, felt lousy—constantly fatigued, nauseated, and short of breath after just the slightest exertion. His daughter, worried by his increasing frailty, took him to the emergency room at the local hospital. Her concern was amply justified: Stuart was suffering from heart failure. Like 5.1 million other…

Microsoft Azure helps researchers predict traffic jams

More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities and suburbs, and as just about any of these billions of people can tell you, urban traffic can be a nightmare. Cars stack up bumper-to-bumper, clogging our highways, jangling our nerves, taxing our patience, polluting our air, and taking a toll on our productivity. In short, traffic jams impair on our emotional, physical, and economic…

Cloud computing helps make sense of cloud forests

The forests that surround Campos do Jordao are among the foggiest places on Earth. With a canopy shrouded in mist much of time, these are the renowned cloud forests of the Brazilian state of São Paulo. It is here that researchers from the São Paulo Research Foundation—better known by its Portuguese acronym, FAPESP—have partnered with Rafael Olivier, professor of ecology…

Blog

Cloud computing guide for researchers – eBird big data analysis using Microsoft Azure

Feb. 6, 2017 – Citizen scientists all over the world have been helping the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to collect bird observations for 15 years using eBird. This real-time, online checklist program enables birders to record birds they see, keep track of lists, explore maps and graphs, share with the eBird community and contribute to ornithological science and bird conservation.

Cloud computing guide for researchers – get started in one hour

Nov. 9, 2016 – Microsoft Azure can help with almost any research computing task, due to its huge range of capabilities. It can, however, be hard to know where to start. This short guide will show you the ropes in about an hour, after which you’ll be all set to explore further.

Cloud computing guide for researchers – faster, better, more reproducible research

Oct. 18, 2016 – Wouldn’t it be great if you had a time machine for your research? Or more realistically, access to all the computing and data capabilities you could ever wish for, right now? That’s exactly what cloud computing can give you and it’s a lot easier than you think. This blog series explains how cloud computing can help you do faster, better and more reproducible research, in any discipline, anywhere around the world.