Microsoft to create new Excellence Centre in Vancouver

Investment to significantly benefit local economy

VANCOUVER, May 1, 2014 /CNW/ - Microsoft announced plans today to open a new training and development centre which will significantly expand the company's investment in Canada. The new "Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre" (MCEC) is slated to open by late 2015 and will be located in a state-of-the-art facility in the Pacific Centre in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

A recent study by Ernst & Young LLP estimated that Microsoft's new investment in Vancouver will be at least $90 million annually, resulting in more than $181.4 million per year in direct, indirect and induced economic growth as well as new job opportunities and knowledge transfer to British Columbians and Canadians.

"Vancouver is a vibrant international hub for technology development with growth potential given its attractive location, amenities, reputation and proximity to top British Columbia universities and a highly-educated and diverse workforce and population," said Janet Kennedy, President of Microsoft Canada.  "This investment will enable us to create a world-class center of training and innovation that will have a positive ripple effect across the local, provincial and national economy."

Beginning in the summer of 2014, Microsoft will hire its first new full-time employees at the MCEC focusing on software and services engineering, program and solutions management in Microsoft's Applications and Services Group. This group is responsible for all of the research and development across Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype, Bing, Bing Apps, MSN and Advertising platforms.  Teams at the MCEC will be from a subset of these organizations.  Eventually, Microsoft expects the MCEC to create 400 new jobs in Vancouver, more than doubling its local workforce.

In addition, Microsoft will establish the "Foundry Vancouver" program to provide opportunities to over 50 students drawn from Canadian universities. This paid internship program invites development and design students enrolled at Canadian universities to participate in a 16-week intensive program that centers on building applications for Microsoft's latest platforms and devices. This program builds upon existing work with Canadian universities and the first 25 interns are expected to begin work by this summer.

"The Foundry Vancouver program builds on a highly-successful Microsoft model program in Massachusetts, which has helped provide students with valuable real-world experience and mentorship," stated Karen Jones, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, who helped bring the program to Canada.  "By working side-by-side with leading engineers, coders, designers and developers, Canadian university students will gain hands-on skills that could increase their success in the job market upon graduation.  This innovative Foundry Vancouver program is an exciting complement to Microsoft's current university programs in Canada."

Canadian officials joined Microsoft today in voicing support for this new investment.  The Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, stated: "I want to welcome the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre to British Columbia. They could have located anywhere in the world and they chose B.C. Our province has become a global hub for the high tech sector with our excellent infrastructure, strategic proximity to the largest markets, and our highly skilled labour force. The new Microsoft Excellence Centre fits in with our Jobs Plan goal of building on knowledge-based sectors to attract, sustain, and promote our export markets."

"The Vancouver expansion of one of the world's most innovative technological firms is recognition of Canada's talent pool and investment climate," said James Moore, Minister Responsible for British Columbia and Minister of Industry through an issued statement.  "It is also a validation that Canada is well positioned to take advantage of the global opportunities of the digital economy.  Our government's top priority remains creating jobs and growth, and promoting Canada's digital economy is an essential part of our plan.  On behalf of the Government of Canada, I welcome this important investment in Canada's economy."

"Microsoft's establishment of a new Excellence Centre is more important validation of Vancouver's continued emergence as a world-leading hub for innovation, with unprecedented new investment and job creation in our fast-growing digital technology sector," City of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson added. "Microsoft's expanded presence in Vancouver will help attract the world's top talent, innovators, and ideas to our city, and contribute substantially to the growth of our knowledge-based economy with 400 new jobs and over $90 million in new annual investment. I look forward to Microsoft playing an even larger role in Vancouver's exciting economic future."

Since the inception of the Microsoft Canada Development Centre in 2007, Microsoft has steadily grown a thriving workforce in British Columbia. In 2009, Microsoft acquired Big Park Studios, home to Next Generation TV experiences like NFL on Xbox ONE; in 2012, Black Tusk Studios was launched; and in 2014, the award-winning Gears of War franchise was added to Microsoft's gaming portfolio in Vancouver. The business currently employs approximately 300 fulltime employees who focus on the development of cutting edge entertainment technologies, products, and services for Microsoft XBOX and the company's larger business.

In addition, Microsoft has helped provide development opportunities for Canada's youth as part of its YouthSpark global initiative.  Since September 2012 launch, YouthSpark has reached over 5 million youth in Canada.  Through work with key YouthSpark partners, Microsoft's efforts in Canada support opportunities for education, STEM enrichment and career aspiration, innovation and children's health. In Canada, Microsoft has partnered with Boys and Girls Club, Frontier College, Youth Science Canada, Shad Valley, and Children's Miracle Network to deliver YouthSpark programs in BC.

In 2014, through the support of a Microsoft grant, Kids Learning Code will be extending programming to British Columbia.  In 2015, Pathways to Education, which has received more than $1 million in-kind and cash grants from Microsoft, will open a new location in Vancouver. Microsoft's ongoing commitment and investment to developing and creating opportunities for local youth will play a key role in improving the long term economic growth of Vancouver, the province, and Canada as a whole.

About Microsoft Canada
Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq "MSFT") the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has nine regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering people through great software - any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft Canada, please visit www.microsoft.ca.

SOURCE Microsoft Canada Inc.

For further information:

Kate Burkholder
Veritas Communications
burkholder@veritasinc.com
647.282.0436