Microsoft is teaming up with Duke University to create a new “innovation hub” at the recently-overhauled Chesterfield building in downtown Durham.

The 5,000-square-foot space, slated to open by the end of summer, will put Duke researchers next to Microsoft employees, allowing for collaboration on a number of research areas related to health care and machine learning.

“The partnership is around health care science, the application of data science to health,” says Lawrence Carin, Duke’s vice provost for research.

The partnership also allows the university to capitalize on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, using the service to advance health care research and educational programs. For example, Microsoft has already been working to improve radiology using data science, which is something that Duke radiologists and data scientists could contribute to, Carin says.

Duke already uses Azure, but the proximity of university personnel to Microsoft’s work will open up access to the company’s latest innovations, according to a DukeToday report, creating opportunities for Duke researchers to use machine learning algorithms, natural language processing and machine vision.

The initial lease term for Microsoft at the Chesterfield is three years. Carin says it’s too early to say how many employees may fill the space.

The former Ligget & Myers tobacco company building underwent a $128 million overhaul led by developer Wexford Science + Technology and opened last year. “This was a team effort between Duke, Microsoft and Wexford to bring together two of the worlds premier innovation enterprises in downtown Durham,” says Justin Parker, senior director of development of Wexford.

Existing tenants include Validic and Duke researchers from the schools of medicine and engineering and the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

The 286,000-square-foot building is now 89 percent leased, with announcements coming soon on new office and retail tenants, Parker says.

Source: Triangle Business Journal by Ben Graham  |  July 10, 2018