Microsoft has chosen Barcelona as its operations base for a new R&D hub, focused on the application of artificial intelligence technology to improve user experience on the internet. The research center will be one of eight worldwide, part of the tech giant’s WebXT (Web Experiences Team) division.

The US company is hoping to attract talent from all over Europe to contribute to the development of multiple Microsoft products, including Windows, Azure and Bing. Jordi Ribas, corporate vice president of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, said he was “honored to announce the launch of this R&D hub,” while politicians from across the political spectrum in Catalaonia voiced their approval.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau welcomed the “excellent news that Microsoft has chosen Barcelona for a strategic project linked to artificial intelligence.” She said it “confirms that we are a leading city in the field of innovation and new technologies,” adding that it “reinforces the city as one of the best in the world to live and work, with a large scientific and technological ecosystem.”

Recruitment of 30 software engineers and data scientists

Catalan vice president and digital minister Jordi Puigneró said “Catalonia has the capabilities to lead the development of artificial intelligence in Europe and has become a global technological leader in this area. The Microsoft R&D Hub reinforces the ecosystem driven by the Artificial Intelligence Strategy of Catalonia (Catalonia.ai) and the joint commitment of the government and Microsoft to the CIDAI (Center for Innovation in Data Tech and Artificial Intelligence) as an initiative of reference for the adoption of artificial intelligence in Catalonia.” President Pere Aragonès said Microsoft’s decision was “good news that places Catalonia, once again, at the epicenter of technological innovation.”

In the first phase, the current investment includes the recruitment of 30 software engineers and data scientists specialized in advanced areas of software engineering including artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning. In the coming years, the hub may exceed 100 employees, acccording to a press release from Microsoft.

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