Qualcomm global R&D operation goes live in Cork – initial focus on security tech

10 Sep 2013

Qualcomm, the maker of semiconductors powering the smartphone revolution, has opened the doors to its new Global Technology Delivery Centre in Cork. The R&D operation’s initial focus will be on security technology and related intellectual property for 3G and 4G devices.

When the operation was first announced in April it was envisaged an initial 20 jobs will be created but the operation could scale up significantly.

Qualcomm vice-president Kevork Kechichian told Siliconrepublic.com that the company intends to be in Cork for the long term.

“This is a new research centre and it’s really going to feed on itself. The more people we find the more we will put here. The area of security is making a big impact on researchers at present.

“Over the coming days or weeks an announcement will be made on numbers of people at the facility but there is nothing I can share at this point.”

Kechichian said that the initial focus of the R&D operation will be security, particularly in two areas. The first will be the protection of data that moves within chips in terms of video, audio, multimedia and personal data and the second area will be intellectual property protection.

“We are really looking for skill sets in those two areas; governing areas like cryptography, algorithms, system level security and we are also embarking on research areas within semiconductors such as circuit design to protect data.”

Kechichian said that one of the attractions for Qualcomm to Cork was its legacy in terms of chip design.

Ireland’s ICT research corridor

“There was definitely an attraction around that. There is also an impressive research corridor between Limerick, Cork and Galway – we found lots of research in universities in Ireland in the security area that would be of interest to us, particularly at UCC and the Tyndall Institute. There are lots of parallels.”

In terms of job numbers potential, Kechichian said that Qualcomm has a hiring rate of 10pc to 15pc a year.

“When I started working at Qualcomm there were 12,000 people, now there are 30,000 people.

I asked Kechichian if the new facility will be engaged in research around 4G. “Our first area is not going to be 4G intellectual property per se, but if you look at the security aspect it governs all our products so yes, indirectly the fruit of the research will go into 4G devices and networks.

“In fact anything we do at this point is pretty much 4G related, so indirectly the facility will be playing its part in the 4G revolution, but in time we might to have some 4G focused development. Only time will tell,” Kechichian said.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said that the arrival of Qualcomm in Cork is a major boost for the country and a further endorsement of the strengths Ireland has built up in technology.

Mobile security image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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