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Preferred Networks and Microsoft have a strategic collaboration in the field of deep learning solutions


Tokyo, Japan, 23 May 2017 – Today, Preferred Networks, Inc. (Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, President and CEO: Toru Nishikawa, hereinafter referred to as PFN) and Microsoft Corporation (Headquarters: Redmond, Washington, USA, CEO: Satya Nadella) have agreed to strategically collaborate in the field of deep learning solutions with the aim to accelerate the applications of artificial intelligence and deep learning in the business world.

Based on this alliance, both companies will promote cooperation between Microsoft’s public cloud platform Microsoft Azure and PFN’s deep learning technology to provide deep learning solutions for solving problems across a broad range of industries. Microsoft Corporation (Headquarters: Minato-ku, Tokyo, Representative Director: Takuya Hirano) will fully support the delivery of this collaboration to the Japanese market.


Through this collaboration, both companies will work together in the following three areas;
1) Technology, 2) Human resource development, 3) Marketing.


  • Challenges that engineers face in deep learning include the increase of the time required to train complex neural networks, the growing management complexity associated with ever-increasing data, to remain flexible and adaptable to the rapid progress and innovation of deep learning, and the methodology of system development around deep learning. In this collaboration, with the aim of tackling these challenges, both companies will enhance the compatibility between Microsoft Azure IaaS and PFN’s deep learning framework Chainer, providing an Azure template to deploy Chainer/ChainerMN (MN stands for Multi Node) on Azure IaaS with a single click, Chainer to Data Science VMS, Chainer on Azure batch services and SQL Servers, and improving Chainer on Windows by the summer of 2017.


  • Currently, the standard way of developing neural networks is to develop from scratch. However, it needs high technical knowledge, and the amount of required investment is also very large. In order to drive the application of deep learning to the real world, it is essential to move from development from scratch to standardized solutions. To realize this transfer, Microsoft Azure Data + Analytics products and PFN’s deep learning platform, Deep Intelligence in-Motion (DIMo) are combined to provide solutions for specific workloads and industries throughout 2017. In addition, both companies will support and nurture partnerships in the development of these solutions to accelerate the broader implementation in the real world.


2.Human resource development:

  • The development of data science human resources is one of the main issues of applying deep learning to the real world. In order to resolve this issue, both companies will work together to provide training programs for university students, engineers and researchers throughout 2017. In addition, both companies will consider participation in data science related programs for human resource development, which are typically government organized, for higher education institutions.


  • Training programs include not only the basics of neural networks, but also advanced classes that teach how to actually apply deep learning to real-world business applications. Through these training programs, both companies plan to train 50,000 people in three years. As goals for the training, programs such as Imagine Cup and Azure for Research, which are among the world’s largest IT contests for students aiming for fostering international competitive IT talents are considered.



  • Deep learning is just one method in machine learning, but it is now exposed to many people as a related field of artificial intelligence. As a result, it is difficult for customers to determine whether or not deep learning is effective to solve their business problems. Both companies will start a customer workshop for each industry in the summer of 2017 based on the knowledge of deep learning business cultivated by Microsoft and PFN, and real success stories using Microsoft Azure, Chainer and DIMo.


  • By incorporating the latest deep learning technologies provided by Chainer and DIMo on a solid Azure platform, both companies provide an enterprise-grade end-to-end solution that can be incorporated into the customer’s core system, throughout 2017.


  • As a place of matching between customers who want to solve business problems with deep learning, and companies who provide consulting services and system development using deep learning, a community named “Deep Learning Lab” has been established, and the community will hold briefings on the days of June 19 and July 25, 2017.


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