Nokia, the largest cell phone manufacturer in the world, is “looking to have a stronger presence in the Valley,” says Tero Ojanpera, Nokia CTO and Executive Vice President. Ojanpera made the remarks at the official opening of the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, which looks to have up to 70 full time researchers and several dozen Stanford student interns working on mobile and wireless innovation (the company is actively recruiting for researchers if you’re interested).
Nokia already has two venture units hunting for startups, but the company says it is trying to open up its research methods, citing Intel as an example of a more open model, and hopes to benefit from both Stanford and Silicon Valley’s creative and entrepreneurial environment. Nokia will also work with Stanford’s students and has already set up a joint Stanford seminar for the next quarter — the next disruptive wireless or mobile company could easily grow out of this union.
That’s good news for young mobile innovators that want to work with Nokia, which can probably get a mobile product faster to mass market than anyone in the world. While the center will be staffed by Nokia researchers and interns there will be an open flow of information between Nokia’s venture arms and the center, says Bob Iannucci, the head of Nokia’s research centers. Nokia’s venture arms will also likely get to cherry-pick the next generation of mobile talent, and Iannucci said that could mean support for even earlier stage ideas.
Iannucci said Nokia looks seven years down the road and tries to envision the mobile/wireless world — most might be wrong, he says, but the exercise is what is important. At the opening the company showed off several demos of forward-looking mobile technology: sensor technology, mobile communities, and location applications, among others (more on this later). In Palo Alto, the initial four research areas will be:
- Context-aware content and communities
- Wireless grids
- Advanced user interfaces and visual media
- Innovation radio and sensor networks
Talk to the head of the Palo Alto center John Shen for more info. While the company wouldn’t disclose how much will be invested in the Palo Alto research center, Ojanpera called the investment “significant.”