Written by Jessica Vomiero

The 17 universities came to an agreement with Facebook’s “Building 8,” and serves to create new streams of revenue for the social media giant while fostering growth in fields like artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The partnership comes just one month after the social network revealed it started stalling in advertising growth, despite still commanding an average of 1.8 billion active users every month.

Building 8 team member Regina Dugan says research partnerships of this kind usually take nine to 12 months to facilitate, but the new partnership should allow for immediate collaboration, though Dugan did not provide specifics as to how it would do so.

Harvard University chief technology development officer Isaac Kohlberg expects the new arrangement to spur growth in his field, too.

“When curiosity strikes, with this new agreement in place, Harvard researchers can initiate new projects with scientific colleagues at Facebook almost immediately,” Kohlberg said in a statement. “This agreement with Facebook recognizes that the most significant, transformative solutions will be informed by university science.”

This step is the latest in a stream of attempts by Facebook to find new ways of monetizing its user-base. For example, Facebook users are no strangers to seeing ads on their respective pages, but consumers have also been introduced to Facebook acquisitions such as WhatsApp, and the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that began its life on KickStarter before being acquired by the company in March of 2014.

Those services, as well as the acquisition of popular photo app Instagram, serve to make Facebook one of the internet’s largest advertising forces, though the company continues to seek new avenues of growth in this sector.

Facebook will also issue payments to participating universities, though a company spokesperson did not specify the amount.

The full list of schools includes Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Johns Hopkins University, Northeastern University, Rice, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-San Francisco, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Arizona State University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Waterloo.

The University of Waterloo was the only Canadian school to be included in the partnership.

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