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MIT and HP launch $25M alliance in digital information systems

The Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and MIT signed a memorandum of understanding on June 2 to form a $25 million alliance to develop innovative ways to create and handle digital information. The five-year alliance will investigate new architectures, devices and user interfaces in information-rich environments and explore novel services for commerce, education and personal use.

HP President and CEO Carly Fiorina, commenting on the new alliance, said, "This is an extraordinary opportunity for two great research organizations to collaborate and develop technologies that will truly transform society for the benefit of all." Ms. Fiorina was the keynote speaker at MIT's Commencement exercises.

Fiorina, an alumna of the Sloan School, was the second Hewlett-Packard CEO to speak at an MIT Commencement. "HP co-founder Bill Hewlett delivered the keynote address in 1986 on the 50th anniversary of his receiving a master's degree from MIT in electrical engineering. In his comments, he emphasized the importance of innovation and creativity to a high-tech society," said President Charles M. Vest. "Now, through this new alliance, HP and MIT will extend those necessary ingredients for successful invention into the far-reaching realm of digital information. We are delighted to build on our long-standing relationship with HP to undertake this new endeavor."

Institute Professor Thomas L. Magnanti, dean of the School of Engineering, said, "Since information technology is a pervasive and influential force shaping today's world in unprecedented ways, we are extremely pleased to be collaborating with HP to develop new ways to create and handle digital information for the future."

Capitalizing on the long collaboration between the two organizations, in particular between HP and MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), the HP/MIT alliance will address and support research and educational programs of mutual interest.

Hal Abelson of EECS, a Class of 1922 Professor and MacVicar Teaching Fellow, said that "much of today's digital information infrastructure is a result of technology invented at HP and at MIT. It's thrilling that we can now work together in realizing the potential of digital information to improve people's lives."

"This action begins to formalize a long-standing relationship between HP and MIT that has grown and evolved over several years," added Dick Lampman, vice president of research and director at HP Labs. "With this agreement, we'll continue and deepen our current joint research efforts as well as establish new ones. HP Labs has a long tradition of successful technology transfer -- unique in the industry -- and we think this advantage will be particularly appealing to MIT researchers who are eager to see the impact of their work on the real world."

Plans include projects with the World Wide Web Consortium within the Laboratory for Computer Science, as well as with the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Media Laboratory, the Sloan School Center for eBusiness@MIT, the Internet & Telecoms Convergence Consortium and the MIT Libraries. Overseen by a joint steering committee, the alliance will define and fund other projects in the future. Dean Magnanti and Mr. Lampman will serve as co-directors of the alliance.

In addition to Dean Magnanti, who led MIT's efforts in working toward this new alliance, other members of the team were Professor Abelson, Rachel Oberai-Soltz of the Office of Corporate Relations, and Frank Cassidy of the Industrial Liaison Program.


In March, the MIT Libraries and HP announced plans to build a $1.8 million digital archive at MIT expected to hold the approximately 10,000 articles produced by MIT authors annually, including a large amount of multimedia content (MIT Tech Talk, March 29, 2000). In January, HP became a founding sponsor of the Sloan School Center for eBusiness@MIT, committing to fund the center for $900,000 over three years. The company has provided support to other MIT programs as well, including the Leaders for Manufacturing Program and the Microsystems Industrial Group.

HP is the second-largest computer maker in the world. Excluding Agilent Technologies, it has 86,000 employees worldwide and had total revenue from continuing operations of $42.4 billion in its 1999 fiscal year.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 7, 2000.

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