Microsoft's research arm today launched an initiative that aims to get more scientists using its Windows Azure cloud computing platform. 

Microsoft Research believes that the Windows Azure for Research program will enable researchers to make scientific breakthroughs more quickly because of the cloud's ability to process vast quantities of data in a flexible and agile manner.

Up to 100 cloud computing grants will be given to academic individuals or groups each year for scientific research on Azure as part of the initiative. Microsoft Research said proposals will be accepted at any time but there will only by six award events per year. Those wishing to be considered for the first round of awards have to submit their proposals, which should be no longer than three pages, before October 15. 

The firm revealed that it will also request applicants submit proposals for topics published periodically on the website. These topics will include community research data services, streaming instrument data to the cloud, machine learning in the cloud, large-scale image analysis, environmental science, astronomy, genomics and urban science.

Microsoft Research said that it will run 20 or more worldwide training events for scientific researchers starting this month as part of the initiative. The organisation also said it will also make technical resources available, as well as additional programmes for professors to teach cloud computing in their classes.

The firm finally revealed that it wants to engage with the research community by sponsoring an annual Windows Azure for Research workshop and participating in existing scientific gatherings.