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February 3, 2006

Gates butters up European governments

Posted by David Hunter at 1:00 PM ET.

As his India visit last year proved, a visit from Bill Gates is like a visit from Santa and his trip to Europe this week was no exception. In addition to the multinational programs that were announced ([1], [2]), there were a number of ones specific to a number of European countries.

Portugal:

Portugal and software company Microsoft agreed to carry out 18 technology projects as a way to boost the Iberian nation’s lagging economy.

The partnership aimed at improving technology training was signed by the government and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. The projects are part of Prime Minister Jose Socrates’s vowed “technology shock” to hike growth that has trailed the European Union average for years.

Financial details were not released.

The projects include technology training for students, workers and police, aid in fighting cybercrime, apprenticeships, software development centres and programmes aimed at Portuguese-speaking African nations.

Greece:

The government agreed with Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates yesterday to set up a research and development center in Athens aimed at helping Greece shed its image as one of the European Union’s information technology laggards.

Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Gates decided during a two-day Internet technology forum in Portugal to establish a Greek Microsoft Innovation Center.

Alogoskoufis came out from the meeting with another bonus as Microsoft also agreed to sell software programs to the public sector at a discount of 20 percent.

Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, also said it will provide some of the country’s tertiary institutions with free software and will also offer scholarship programs for doctoral students working on new technologies.

Poland:

Microsoft Corp. plans to set up a regional software engineering center in Poland this year as part of an effort to increase investment in the ex-communist country, Chairman Bill Gates said Thursday.

Gates said he hoped to have more than 40 people working by the end of 2006 at the center, which he said would “draw on … talent that is very strong here.”

The center would be based in Warsaw and was expected to eventually employee about 200 people, meaning it could grow to become one of the company’s major programming centers worldwide, Microsoft official Tomasz Bochenek said.

“From the perspective of a country like Poland, this is a big thing,” said Bochenek, Microsoft’s manager of sales and marketing for central and eastern Europe.

During a brief address to reporters in Warsaw, Gates also said Microsoft would set up five training centers in Poland as part of ongoing efforts to promote education worldwide.

If I sound a bit derisory, I’m not really, other being a trifle dubious as to the ultimate utility of some of the projects. All of this is good sound business diplomacy that international companies like IBM have practiced for years. Besides, Microsoft could use some friendly governments in Europe these days.



Filed under Bill Gates, Executives, General Business, Governmental Relations, Public Relations

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