Microsoft and Cambridge Talk Up Research Complex

LONDON--Billionaire Bill Gates, founder of the software giant Microsoft, is negotiating with the U.K.'s Cambridge University to set up a joint multimillion-dollar software research complex at the university. Gates is also reported to be considering a separate donation to Cambridge for a new building to house an expanded science department.

The research center would be an independent commercial project but would have close ties to the university, news reports say. Like Microsoft's campus near Seattle, observers speculate, it will concentrate on long-term, strategic research on computer software.

The project is apparently being negotiated by Microsoft executives and a group of academics, including Cambridge astrophysicist and best-selling author Stephen Hawking. His former student, Nathan Myhrvold, is now a top executive at Microsoft. Hawking told London's Daily Telegraph that he was pleased his connection with Myhrvold may pay off for Cambridge. Discussions were still at an early stage and there was "nothing definite to report," said a university spokesperson, who added that the university "would be delighted if an agreement was reached with Microsoft." Microsoft declined to comment.

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