And, doing it in University labs is something that was on my mind thanks to this post from Abi a couple of days ago. That is the reason why I found this post by Matt Welsh very interesting and informative. Not only does Matt tell us about the successful research carried out by Intel (using their own labs, of course), but also tells us why trying to do that kind of research in University setting is a bad idea.
Before the Labs opened, Intel Research was consistently ranked one of the lowest amongst all major technology companies in terms of research stature and output. I feel that the Labs really put Intel Research on the map by involving world-class academics and doing high-profile projects. They have attracted some of the top PhDs and offered a much more academic alternative to a place like, say, IBM Research.
One closing thought. Perhaps Intel realizes it can have far more impact by setting up large, high-impact research programs within universities rather than run its own labs. In some ways I can appreciate this point of view: help the universities do what they do best. But the way this is being done is unlikely to be successful. The first such Intel center on visual computing involves something like 25 PIs spread across eight universities. Each PI is only getting enough to fund work they were already doing, so this is an example of doing something that looks good on paper but is unlikely to move the needle at all for these research groups. This seems like a missed opportunity for Intel.
Something for Tatas and Prashants to think about!