Fitbit has just set up its largest European R&D center

Software engineers and designers working in Bucharest will now be contributing to all the company's products.

fitbitbucharest.jpg

Activity tracker firm Fitbit already employs about 100 software engineers, designers and product managers in Romania and plans to hire more for its new Bucharest R&D center.

Image: Catalin Marcu/Fitbit

Fitbit has just opened its largest European research and development center in Bucharest. The Romanian capital is the home of a startup it recently acquired, Vector Watch, which developed a 30-day battery smartwatch.

The new R&D team is formed around the existing 30 Vector employees, all of whom have remained onboard. The startup's former CTO, Andrei Pitis, will head the facility, while also serving as VP of engineering for Fitbit.

The US wearables company already employs about 100 software engineers, designers and product managers in Romania, and many more are expected to sign up in the coming year. Fitbit is actively looking for firmware engineers, iOS and Android developers, product managers, and UX designers.

CTO Eric Friedman hopes that local techies will join the company, drawn by the opportunity of creating projects that are relevant to the global market.

"Hiring smart people everywhere is a challenge, and I think there's a unique talent in Bucharest that [we] will tap into," Friedman said at the launch of the new center. The focus, however, is on quality rather than quantity.

Fitbit is opening the R&D center hoping to capitalize on some of the technologies Vector Watch has developed and the team's expertise.

The 30-day battery life smartwatch employed several innovations for optimizing power consumption. The operating system, for instance, was built from scratch.

"The team's knowledge around low-power technologies, the ability to have low-power OS and third-party applications -- those are some of the things that they're bringing to the table," CEO James Park told ZDNet.

The wearables company plans to support a local startup accelerator and to work with technical universities, where it could sponsor projects and even invest in computer-science lab infrastructure.

The Romanian Employers' Association of the Software and Service Industry hopes Fitbit's decision will inspire other tech businesses to set up shop in Romania.

"The R&D center is an opportunity for the local tech sector, one of our goals being to grow the number of research and development facilities across the country," a spokesperson told ZDNet.

Apart from Fitbit, companies such as Adobe, SAP, Ixia, NXP, and Bitdefender have R&D offices in Romania, attracted by the country's rich talent pool, tax exemptions for developers, and the living costs that are half of those in Western Europe.

Fitbit acquired startup Vector Watch in January this year for an undisclosed sum.

Previous and related coverage

'We want to be number two behind Apple': The inside story of Vector, the first really smart watch

The 30-day battery life gadget stole the show at Baselworld and will soon hit the markets around the globe.

Forget Silicon Valley: Building a startup in Romania may make more sense

Low-financed startups could find a home in the eastern European country, where overheads and salaries are a quarter of those in San Francisco

More on Fitbit and wearables

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