Company deepens Canadian presence, estimates 400 new jobs will be created

Downtown Vancouver will be the site of a new Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre (MCEC) training and development facility. The facility, which will open next year in Vancouver’s downtown Pacific Centre, significantly expands the company’s investment in Canada.

The centre will focus on software and services engineering, program and solutions management in Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group. This group is responsible for R&D across Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype, Bing, Bing Apps, MSN and advertising platforms. Teams at the MCEC will be from a subset of these organizations.

“Beginning summer 2014, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) will begin the first phase for staffing the MCEC’s work force streams,” a Microsoft spokesperson told IT World Canada. “Due to current space constraints as we build out our new office, we anticipate this first phase will include approximately 150-175 employees.” The company expects the MCEC to create 400 new jobs.

Ernst & Young LLP estimates that the new investment will come to at least $90 million annually, and generate more than $181.4 million a year in direct, indirect and induced economic growth as well as new job opportunities and knowledge transfer to British Columbians and Canadians.

“Vancouver is a vibrant international hub for technology development with growth potential given its attractive location, amenities, reputation and proximity to top British Columbia universities and a highly-educated and diverse workforce and population,” Microsoft president Janet Kennedy, said in a release. “This investment will enable us to create a world-class centre of training and innovation that will have a positive ripple effect across the local, provincial and national economy.”

“The Vancouver expansion of one of the world’s most innovative technological firms is recognition of Canada’s talent pool and investment climate,” Industry Minister James Moore — who is also responsible for British Columbia — said in a statement. “It is also a validation that Canada is well positioned to take advantage of the global opportunities of the digital economy. Our government’s top priority remains creating jobs and growth, and promoting Canada’s digital economy is an essential part of our plan.”

Microsoft also announced plans to establish a paid internship program called Foundry Vancouver for more than 50 students drawn from Canadian universities. Foundry Vancouver will enable development and design students to participate in a 16-week program building applications for Microsoft’s latest platforms and devices. The first 25 interns are expected to begin work by this summer.

Microsoft has a well-established West Coast presence. It opened a Canada Development Centre in nearby Richmond, B.C. in 2007. The company already employs about 300 full-time employees who focus on developing entertainment technologies, products, and services for Microsoft Xbox and the company’s larger business.

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