Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates announced Friday a country-wide talent hunt, called Code 4 Bill, among Indian students, that would give the winner the opportunity to work with his Technical Assistants team.

The 20 best students will be selected to intern with Microsoft at its Indian operations, while the winner will get to join Gates’ Technical Assistants team for a year, said Gates while addressing some 5,000 developers in Bangalore, India.

India is the first country where students will get the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge product development and innovations by working directly with Microsoft’s product and development and research teams, the company said in a statement Friday.

The contest is aimed at prefinal and final year students pursuing various technical courses across India, the company said. Registrations for the talent hunt will start in January. The contest will run through various stages over the next eight months, and will test technical and analytical skills through different challenges, including in-depth, face-to-face interviews with technical teams, the company said.

India’s low-cost engineering talent has attracted a number of multinational technology and services companies, as well as user organizations, to set up software-development operations in India. Microsoft, of Redmond, Washington, announced earlier this week that it was increasing staff in India from 4,000 to 7,000 over the next three to four years.

However, as more companies set up operations in India, and hire a large number of engineers, they have to come up with innovative plans to attract and retain talent. Google Inc., for example, held its Google India Code Jam earlier this year to find the best coder in South and Southeast Asia. The winner was a student in Singapore, but for the Mountain View, California, company the coding contest was an opportunity to identify talented Indian engineers from the 14,000 participants. The company has research and development operations in India.



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