Computer chip-maker Intel Corporation has announced that it will invest $100 million in research in US universities over the next 5 years to drive innovation in computing and communications through dedicated Intel Science and Technology Centers opened at these universities.

The first such Center will be opened at Stanford University, supported by $2.5 million a year from the chip giant, where researchers will collaborate with colleagues from seven other universities to work on improving visual computing experiences for consumers and professionals.

The research will be facilitated by the platform provided by the recently- introduced 2nd Generation Intel® CoreTM processor with combined visual and 3-D graphics.

Intel has made investments in university research consistently in the past, but the current Science and Technology Center-based model marks a departure from the earlier one in that these will be housed within the Universities and would be jointly led by Intel scientists and University researchers with funding from the company. In the earlier instances, Intel established open centers near research universities so that a substantial portion of the company's funding had to be channeled towards operating, maintaining and staffing these facilities. Under the present restructuring of initiatives, the amount of funds received by researchers is expected to increase 5 times.

Commenting on the new approach, Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer said, The pace of technology change is getting faster. With today's announcement we are ensuring that Intel Labs' academic research support is adaptable and flexible. Our new approach should allow us to quickly and dynamically invest in the most promising academic work.

Pat Hanrahan, the Stanford University professor who would be the lead academic principal investigator at the Center, told The Wall Street Journal that the funding from Intel would support 30 faculty members and 50 graduate students from eight institutions working on the project. Given that these are indisputably some of the brightest minds in the country, he expected the return on investment to be enormous.