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Award Program: Microsoft Azure for Research

Bi-monthly RFPs

Microsoft Research is soliciting proposals for projects that use Microsoft Azure in research. We welcome research proposals from any branch of scholarly activity. We review these proposals on the fifteenth of even-numbered months (February, April, June, August, October, and December). The response so far has been outstanding. Selected proposals will be awarded large allocations of Microsoft Azure storage and compute resources for a period of up to one year.

Special-opportunity RFPs

In addition to these standing, bi-monthly requests for proposals, we will periodically announce additional special-opportunity requests for proposals (RFPs) on specific cloud-based research topics. These topics will include community research data services, streaming instrument data to the cloud, machine learning in the cloud, large-scale image analysis, environmental science, astronomy, genomics, and urban science. These calls will be announced in our blog postings and described here.

Microsoft Azure for Research Data Science Initiative

Microsoft Research is excited to offer researchers the opportunity to apply for cloud computing resources to support their data intensive research projects. We recognize that the current landscape of cloud based research makes heavy use of data that can take advantage of Azure services and tools to efficiently drive insights from data. Specifically, we seek proposals for projects that use, but are not limited to, Azure Analytics services such as Machine Learning, Stream Analytics, Data factory, Event hubs, Notification hubs, and HDInsight based services. Projects can be in any research discipline, as long as they clearly articulate the data that the proposed research relies on, and the Azure based analytics services that will be used.

The deadline for this round of proposals for this program is December 15, 2015.

Microsoft Azure Award for Ebola Research

According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2014 Ebola epidemic is now affecting multiple countries in West Africa. One imported case from Liberia and associated locally acquired cases in healthcare workers have been reported in the United States (see Ebola Crisis). The President of the United States has stated that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and the humanitarian crisis there is a top national security priority for the United States (see Fact Sheet: U.S. Response to Ebola).

Microsoft Research is soliciting cloud computing proposals for projects that are working towards developing a better understanding of the spread and cure of the Ebola virus and its associated factors. Qualifying proposals will be awarded allocations of Microsoft Azure compute and storage resources.

Azure Machine Learning
We’re offering a limited number of awards to enable both seasoned researchers and students to try this unique offering.

  • Data science instructional awards:
    These awards will provide an individual account for each student in an intermediate or advanced data science class. Each awardee will receive 500 GB of cloud data storage.
  • Shared workspaces for research collaboration:
    These awards will provide a workspace for a group of researchers interested in hosting a data collection in Microsoft Azure to discover and share predictive models. Each group will receive 10 TB of cloud data storage for this collection.

The deadline for this round of proposals for this program is December 15, 2015.

Climate Data Initiative

  • Climate Data Award
    The special Climate Data Award program provides scientists and decision-makers with access to Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources to support the White House Climate Data Initiative’s goals of preparedness for resilience to climate change impacts.

    This project is in response to the White House Climate Action Plan. This plan is an outcome of the June 25, 2013, announcement by President Obama of his comprehensive plans to reduce carbon pollution and move our economy toward American-made clean energy and slowing the effects of climate change

    The deadline for this round of proposals for this program is December 15, 2015.
  • Innovation Challenge for Food Resilience
    Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Microsoft, the Innovation Challenge for Food Reslience invites the public and private sectors to address questions pertinent to the impact of climate change on the US food supply. The Innovation Challenge invites entrants to develop and publish new applications and tools that can analyze multiple sources of information about the nation’s food supply, including key USDA datasets that are now hosted on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform.

    In addition, through the Microsoft Azure for Research program, Microsoft is granting hours of cloud computing time and terabytes of cloud storage to be used to aid university researchers and students who wish to take part in the challenge.

    The deadline for this challenge is November 20, 2015.

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 data of value to a collaboration or community.

Proposal submission

Submit your proposal via the online submission site. Your proposal should meet the following requirements.

  • Proposal should not exceed three pages in length
  • Proposal should include resource requirement estimates (number of core, storage requirements, and so forth) for your project.
  • Proposal titles for the special award program must begin with a key phrase for identification purposes.
    • For the Data Science Initiative: "Data science"
    • For Ebola Research: "Ebola"
    • For the Innovation Challenge for Food Resilience: “Agriculture”
    • For the Climate Data Initiative: “CDI"
    • For the Machine Learning data science instructional awards, use “Azure Machine Learning Instruction
    • For the Machine Learning shared workspace and research collaboration awards: “Azure Machine Learning Research

Proposal submission deadlines

  • Bi-monthly request for proposals: December 15, 2015
  • Azure Machine Learning: December 15, 2015
  • Climate Data Initiative: December 15, 2015
  • Data Science Initiative: December 15, 2015
  • Ebola Research: open call
  • Innovation Challenge for Food Resilience: November 20, 2015

Get help with your proposal

  • For additional information about the program or proposal submission process, consult our FAQ about awards.
  • If you have questions that are not addressed in our FAQ, send email to

Access Microsoft Azure resources

In addition to the research awards, there are several other ways to access free Microsoft Azure resources. These include the 90-day free trial that is available on the Microsoft Azure Portal and the MSDN subscription. You may also be interested in using Microsoft Azure in your classes.