Microsoft to launch $40M AI health initiative

AI has the potential to vastly improve healthcare around the world, but existing barriers and lack of resources could be stunting deployment of the technology and its future solutions. That’s why Microsoft is launching a $40 million, five-year program that aims to leverage the company’s existing initiative and AI technology to help researchers and organizations tackle health challenges.

Microsoft aims to ensure nonprofits, academia and research organizations have access to AI to improve research, health insights and access to care.

The new program, called AI for Health, is part of Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative, which is a $165 million commitment to organizations and people working to address societal issues. AI for Health will focus on three areas: quest for discovery, global health insights, and health equity.

"Artificial intelligence has the potential to solve some of humanity's greatest challenges, like improving the health of communities around the world," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a statement. "We know that putting this powerful technology into the hands of experts tackling this problem can accelerate new solutions and improve access for underserved populations.”

Currently, less than 5% of the world’s AI professionals work in health and nonprofit organizations, and the barrier for many health researchers to deploy AI and data science can be high without necessary talent and resources.

So far, Microsoft announced a handful of grantees through AI for Health:

  • BRAC
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems
  • Novartis Foundation
  • PATH
  • Seattle Children’s Research Institute

The AI for Health program will build on Microsoft’s existing collaborations , which are already tackling issues like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), leprosy, diabetic retinopathy and biomedical data sharing.