Facebook’s Building 8 research team has reportedly signed collaboration deals with 17 universities to invest in the development of future technology. The Sponsored Academic Research Agreement (SARA) was led by Regina Dugan, current Building 8 head.
Regina Dugan was formerly the director of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and previously led the advanced technology and projects group at Google before going on to head Facebook’s Building 8 initiative in April of this year.
The goal of the SARA arrangement is to speed up the process and progress of joint university research. Instead of needing to wait nine months to a year for lengthy negotiations and the faculty approval process, research can apparently start in weeks, if not days. As a bonus, Facebook will reportedly pay the universities for their work.
Regina Dugan was quoted as saying: “With the SARA, B8/Facebook has created a universal agreement with terms that are project-by-project and designed to be fair and appropriate for universities. All university partners sign the same agreement, allowing Facebook to build the relationships quickly and at scale.”
The universities on board with SARA thus far are as follows: Stanford, MIT, Harvard University, Canada’s University of Waterloo Caltech, Rice, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Northeastern, Princeton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Arizona State University, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
Facebook has yet to release any word on what kinds of projects B8 and the signed-on universities will be working on — though previous Facebook technological endeavors have included its Aquila solar-powered drone project, the Oculus Rift VR headsets, and investigation into artificial intelligence, among a plethora of other technological endeavors.
In the past, Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about Building 8 on Facebook, saying the company planned to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the group over the next few years, with an expectation to see significant breakthroughs across important areas, such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and connectivity. This SARA move will no doubt foster new advancements in the aforementioned areas.