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How We Helped Microsoft Launch an Academic Research Partnership

Success Story

At a glance

We collaborated with cloud computing leader Microsoft to announce a new partnership and research initiative with a large government agency. The initiative aims to accelerate biomedical research by providing access to cost-effective, advanced cloud technology and services to optimize the processing, storage, and analysis of large datasets and computationally intensive workloads.

Compared to on-premises research, the cloud speeds up processing and allows researchers to work with more complex workloads. Cloud computing also makes research more effective and efficient because it allows researchers to share work across multiple cloud accounts.

Our consultants worked with the Microsoft team to create a powerful go-to-market strategy, marketing content, sales enablement assets, and a website for the partnership. The collaboration resulted in a successful launch and bolstered our client’s ability to empower researchers with cloud computing.

Business results

20 stakeholders aligned through facilitation of internal feedback and conversations
Designed meaningful content that resonated with Azure's target audience
Gave Microsoft a competitive advantage in the academic research field

Services provided

Customer persona mapping
Content strategy and development
Product positioning and messaging


Biomedical research continues to evolve

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, industries must adapt to new ways of operating. The $60 billion academic research field is no exception. Higher education research often uses traditional on-premises hardware with software applications running on campus servers. Increasingly, researchers and institutions are turning to the cloud to accelerate research and collaboration.

With the cloud, researchers have access to the most advanced resources to help solve issues related to the causes, treatments, and cures of medical illnesses and diseases. For instance, in 2020, Microsoft contributed to COVID-19 vaccine research across a variety of projects.

For one project, Azure specialists partnered with researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to create a microscopic image of the SARS COV-2 virus. The Azure team created the image by developing a supercomputer in the cloud, which ran 86,000 computer cores simultaneously. The ‘computational microscope’ also set a new record for high-performance computing scaling on the public cloud.

Furthering its mission to help every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft joined forces with a prominent government agency to help biomedical researchers accelerate discovery through a specialized initiative.

How Spur partnered with Microsoft

Microsoft sought our expertise to develop its go-to-market strategy and build a bill of materials (BOM) to help Microsoft announce the research partnership and prepare the field. Our client chose to work with Spur Reply based on an existing and positive working relationship with Microsoft’s education team.

Microsoft wanted to effectively communicate its unique value proposition and increase awareness of its investment in academic research. Specifically, the tech leader wanted to convey this message to academic researchers, campus leadership and IT stakeholders at universities and colleges.

Our consultants were dedicated to helping Microsoft cultivate trust with the academic research community. By creating materials that spoke to the challenges this audience faces, we assisted Microsoft in strengthening its customer relationships, while demonstrating how cloud solutions can expand research capabilities.

Our approach to research partnership strategy development and content creation

Prior to creating the bill of materials (BOM), we developed our strategy with the Microsoft team. That process included designing a messaging strategy with subject matter experts (SMEs) and aligning many stakeholders across Microsoft.

Academic researchers are a niche audience within the education industry. Therefore, SMEs also trained our consultants on effective communication with a new target audience.

Once we aligned with our client on a strategy, we created six internal and external deliverables:

  • Sales pitch deck. Customer presentation deck for Microsoft field and sales teams to overview the biomedical research initiative with academic decision makers.
  • Sales one-pager. A brief overview of Microsoft’s offerings and the benefits available through the initiative for field and sales teams to share with customers.
  • Sales conversation guide. Internal sales guide for Microsoft’s field and sales teams to understand the target audience and how to best to address their needs.
  • Email template. Customer-facing email announcing the new research partnership between Microsoft and the government agency. The message was intended for academic researchers.
  • Social media asset package. Customer-facing social media content announcing the research partnership between Microsoft and the research agency. The content targeted academic researchers and campus leaders.
  • FAQ document. Customer-facing document answering questions about the initiative and the unique benefits available by selecting Microsoft as their cloud partner.

The deliverables were later combined into a website, which included background information on Azure, the agency and its specialized initiative, as well as biomedical research on the cloud.

Content delivery with purpose

Not only did we deliver valuable content for the client, but we also facilitated important internal conversations across a team of nearly 20 stakeholders to strengthen their overall go-to-market strategy.

“Spur Reply played a vital role in our go-to-market strategy. From stakeholder alignment to content production, their team was with us every step of the way," said Rick Friedman, Research Industry Executive at Microsoft. "The assets they helped produce gave us a competitive advantage and continue to support our recent go-to-market efforts within the academic research field.” 

Designing content that resonated with our client’s target audience gave Microsoft a competitive advantage in the academic research field. More importantly, our content played a small but important role in enabling biomedical researchers to use cloud computing for research that will continue to improve lives.


Spur Reply played a vital role in our go-to-market strategy. From stakeholder alignment to content production, their team was with us every step of the way. The assets they helped produce gave us a competitive advantage and continue to support our recent go-to-market efforts within the academic research field.
Rick FriedmanResearch Industry Executive, Microsoft
Thought Leadership

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