Amid the vast reaches of Facebook offices, there is a secret lab at work. The lab is known merely as the Building 8 research facility and what goes on inside is hidden from the rest of the world. The company is now attempting to boost the capabilities of the said labs by signing a collaborative agreement with an assortment of universities. And because it is Facebook, the deal will jump start the inputs from the universities — which will start pouring in, in weeks rather than months or years.
The major hurdle with partnerships of the kind, is the fact that the processes take too long. Agreeing to work in collaboration with a company involves lengthy discussions, negotiations and faculty approvals. To counter this, Facebook has come up with the ingenuous SARA.
SARA stands for Sponsored Academic Research Agreement and is designed to make it easier and faster for Building 8 to work with university researchers and leverage their capabilities. Within this agreement, Facebook provides participating universities with a certain fee while the former gets access to all the knowledge and research.
Another advantage that participating universities gain stems from the fact that all their efforts gain a practical direction, rather than remaining as something theoretical.
Seventeen universities in total have already signed the SARA. A complete list follows:
California Institute of Technology – Caltech, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Rice University, UCSF, UC Berkeley, Northeastern University, Princeton University, University of Waterloo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Arizona State University, Texas A&M University, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech.
Bear in mind though, that this list features some of the best universities and educational institutions across the world. A partnership with them is giving Facebook access to virtually the best minds on the planet.
As for where the company deploys all that pool of talent, remains to be seen. The company has dozens of highly advanced projects going at any time. For example, there is Facebook’s advanced terrestrial connectivity systems in form of the Project ARIES antenna, its planned internet beaming drones and satellites, the highly advanced mobile VR headsets its working on through Occulus and of course, the Surround 360 cameras.
Facebook can use the talents borrowed from these universities in one or more of its projects, or even in all of them. We can expect the company to derive significant benefits from the partnership and we can also expect technology in general, to take some major steps forward thanks to the convergence of the vast resources and facilities at Facebook’s disposal with some of the best brains on the planet.