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Watch out, academics, the Internet’s mighty portals are after your brain power.

The latest of these one-stop shops of free Internet services on campus is Microsoft, operator of the MSN and Internet destinations.

Microsoft has begun taking applications for a total of $500,000 in academic research funding, enough for a dozen or so projects.

It also plans to make available $1 million to finance about 10 academic fellowships in the area of Internet-related research.

Yahoo heads to Berkeley for Internet research. Click here to read more.

This educational outreach is an integral part of Microsoft’s renewed focus on basic research.

The fellowships and grants are distributed by Live Lab, a new Microsoft research facility for developing “Internet-centric” features. The lab was unveiled on Thursday.

Microsoft said the goal of Live Lab is “to extend Microsoft’s existing engagement with the external academic research community through new opportunities for grants, sabbaticals, internships and fellowships.”

Read more here about the history of Microsoft’s research efforts.

Live Lab is the latest example of the push by Microsoft, Yahoo and other Internet interests to mine academia, both in the United States and abroad, for the brain power it needs to keep pace in a hypercompetitive business environment.

Internet search providers constantly tinker, as a new feature can boost traffic to the search engine, which translates into more ad revenue.

Last week, leading Internet destination Yahoo said it is opening its first research facilities outside the United States.

The labs, in Santiago, Chile and Barcelona, Spain, will be staffed by students and faculty from local universities, Yahoo said.

The new Yahoo centers are led by Web search expert Ricardo Baeza-Yates, who is based at the Yahoo Barcelona facility. Baeza-Yates created the Center for Web Research in Santiago. He is a former Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

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