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Google is taking another big step into the health and medical side of tech: a $500 million joint research project with biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, focused on finding treatments for age-related diseases. Google-founded health R&D startup Calico, which aims to tackle the problem of aging using high tech, will be doing the actual research, while AbbVie will follow up and bring any new treatments or technologies to market. Each company brings $250 million to the table to start with, and costs and profits will be shared.
What will result from the partnership is anyone's guess, but it's a strong indication of Google's interest in expanding its areas of expertise. Everyone knows the Internet giant as a search engine and provider of various online services, but a bit of smart positioning could also put it at the forefront of medical data-gathering — just as fitness and health tech really begin to take off. The company is taking similar long shots with, among other things, its self-driving cars, fiber connections and balloon-mounted Internet hotspots.