Vodafone invests in Dublin R&D centre

2 Feb 2006

Dublin has emerged as the much sought after ‘final piece’ in mobile network giant Vodafone’s European R&D jigsaw with the news that the company is to establish a Centre of Excellence for Personalisation and Storage in the city. The centre will employ 25 people and will work closely with local Irish technology companies to develop globally exportable products.

A spokesperson for Vodafone told siliconrepublic.com that the operation is the sixth such centre to be established in Europe – with similar centres in Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain and Portugal – and will be based out of the company’s Irish headquarters in Leopardstown. The units have been established to develop products and services in response to future customer needs and the five other centres cover communications, entertainment, information, commerce and transactions and business on the move.

“This is good news for local technology companies and gives them a chance to develop new products in collaboration with Vodafone that will give them an instant calling card around the world.

“This is the last out of six such centres planned and there has been much speculation throughout the European financial press as to where it would be located,” the spokesperson added.

She added that products developed at the centre in collaboration with Vodafone could then be potentially offered to Vodafone’s global customer base of 179m mobile users.

It is understood that Vodafone Ireland was selected to host the Centre of Excellence for Personalisation and Storage following an internal competitive tendering process.

Key factors that influenced the final decision included the existing R&D sector in Ireland as well as support from the Government for similar projects that bring international opportunities to local companies.

Vodafone Ireland says that it already has a strong track record in introducing product innovations from Irish technology companies to the Vodafone Group. Companies that have worked with Vodafone include ChangingWorlds, Idiro, DV4 and Aran Technologies.

For example, ChangingWorlds has successfully grown its Wireless Portal Solutions business to a point where it provides services to over 30 mobile operators and employs over 70 staff. Another company, Aran Technologies, supplied a product which is now used worldwide by Vodafone, while an Idiro product is used in Vodafone UK.

Commenting on the news, Vodafone Ireland chief executive Teresa Elder (pictured) said: “The establishment of the Centre of Excellence is not only exciting news for Vodafone Ireland, it’s also significant news for the large number of individuals and companies in Ireland that have great ideas but need support to bring their ideas from the concept phase through to launch.

“As mobile uptake and the use of advanced services continue to rise, there are excellent opportunities for companies to partner with the Centre of Excellence to help us create exciting new services for customers both in Ireland, and also for other Vodafone operations worldwide.

“Our Irish customers are already world-leaders in embracing mobile technology and a phenomenal 172,000 of our customers are now 3G network subscribers,” Elder said.

The strategic imperative of the Vodafone decision was seized by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD. He said: “It anchors value-added innovation in Ireland and will help develop a dynamic wireless cluster in Ireland. Winning this centre is good news for the overall sector in Ireland.

“It will facilitate collaboration with the existing indigenous base of companies, third level institutions and vendors. The centre will provide a new opportunity to develop products collaboratively from concept through to trial, with the ultimate objective of acting as a gateway to deployment of successful products across all the Vodafone markets,” Martin said.

By John Kennedy