Today at its Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Innovation conference, Microsoft Corp will announce the first spinout of technology from its Microsoft Research Cambridge lab to Skinkers, a London-based start-up. Skinkers, a market leader in direct-to-desktop event notification and content delivery solutions, is acquiring technology that will enable it to reach more customers with faster and more reliable service. As a result of this agreement, Microsoft will get an equity position in the company and an observer seat on the board of directors. Microsoft will also announce an agreement with Dublin-based Vimio plc, a leading developer of mobile media content and distribution solutions, to license Microsoft™ video optimisation technology to fortify its offerings in the world of mobile media distribution and content solutions.

These new relationships with innovative European companies mark the progress that the Microsoft IP Ventures programme has made toward its goal of matching innovations from its research labs with companies around the globe that can refine and commercialise the technologies into their own products. "Working with governments and venture capitalists to get our innovation portfolio in the hands of entrepreneurs who can commercialise it is a win for all parties,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International. “The new business relationships with Skinkers and Vimio will yield new innovations for the European and the global markets."

The Microsoft IP Ventures programme connects entrepreneurs with innovative technologies developed as part of Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar annual investment in research and development. Through the programme, new companies and economic development organisations gain access to Microsoft Research technologies and, in alliance with investment firms, commercialise the technology.

"The technology and the support available through the IP Ventures programme provide an unparalleled opportunity for small and emerging businesses," said Jay Patel, executive director of NewMedia SPARK, a venture capital investor organisation based in London.

Currently more than 30 technologies are available for licensing through IP Ventures, and several companies globally have collaborated with Microsoft to license technology and launch new products in fields as diverse as predictive traffic, digital photography and editing, collaborative agent technology, and wireless communications.

Skinkers to Bring Collaborative Agent Technology to Market
Skinkers will acquire a collaborative agent technology developed by Microsoft Research Cambridge as part of the agreement. Over the next year, Skinkers will co-develop software with Microsoft that will benefit both companies and result in a final product that Skinkers will take to market. Microsoft plans to incorporate part of the final technology into its product line. Microsoft will be a shareholder in Skinkers, and Andrew Herbert, managing director of the Microsoft Research Cambridge lab, will join Skinkers’ board in the capacity of an observer.

"Microsoft’s Cambridge Lab will be working closely with Skinkers in a venture that will bring new innovative technology to the European market," Herbert said. "The relationship with IP Ventures enables us to combine our leading direct-to-desktop solutions with the latest collaborative agent content distribution technology from Microsoft, creating exciting new commercial opportunities," said Matteo Berlucchi, CEO of Skinkers.

Vimio Leveraging Microsoft Mobile Video Optimisation Technology
Also during the SME Innovation conference, Microsoft will announce that it has closed a second transaction with Irish company Vimio through its ongoing relationship with Enterprise Ireland.

"Microsoft’s IP Ventures programme helps us in our continuing goal of assisting Irish companies in achieving strong positions in global markets,” said Brendan Finucane, executive director of Technology, Automation & Productivity for Enterprise Ireland. “We are pleased to have helped a second Irish company take advantage of the opportunities this initiative offers."

Vimio will collaborate with the Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge and will leverage technology from Microsoft that makes it possible to deliver video in low-bandwidth environments with clearer shape, smoother motion and shorter latency than alternative technologies on mobile devices. It delivers this enhanced performance while requiring less computational resources than do conventional video technologies.

"We are excited about the relationship we’ve developed with Microsoft through IP Ventures," said Malachy Harkin, CEO of Vimio. "This initiative offers real opportunities for European technology companies to leverage the innovative technology developed by Microsoft to build and grow their businesses."

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

About Microsoft EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa)
Microsoft has operated in EMEA since 1982. In the region Microsoft employs more than 12,000 people in 60 subsidiaries, delivering products and services in 138 countries and territories.

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Published on: 12:00AM on 19th June 2006