HP establishes R&D center in Korea

Based in Seoul, the R&D lab will focus on mobile computing and RFID research, HP says.

Mirroring similar moves by rivals, computer giant Hewlett-Packard has established a multimillion-dollar research and development facility in South Korea.

Based in Seoul, the new center will focus on research into mobile computing and radio frequency identification technologies, the firm said. The announcement was made yesterday during company chief Carly Fiorina's visit to the country.

HP plans to invest US$40 million in its Korean lab over next five years, hiring up to 50 researchers in the initial phase. Korea's Ministry of Industry and Communication will also invest in selected projects in the new center, officials revealed.

Mobile computing research, which is currently undertaken by HP's R&D lab in Japan, will be moved to Seoul. The former head of HP's media and systems research unit in Japan, Marc McEachern, has been appointed to spearhead the new Korean facility, the company said

Besides Japan and Korea, HP has research labs in the United States, England, India and Israel.

According to HP, the idea for a Korean research center was first mooted by the minister of Korea's Ministry of Industry Jin Dae-Je last year. Jin had met up with Fiorina in 2003 when he visited the U.S. along with Korean president Roh Moo-hyun.

In the past year, Korean authorities have been ramping up efforts to attract foreign technology giants to step up their research investments in the country.

In October 2003, IBM unveiled plans for a US$16 million Korean research lab in partnership with Korea's Institute of Information Technology Assessment.

Big Blue's R&D center also focuses mobile computing research, specifically in the emerging fields like telematics and embedded software which is used to run everything from household appliances to TVs and DVD players.

Last year, chip giant Intel also announced plans to set up an R&D center in Korea, focusing on research into digital or so-called smart home technology as well as wireless communications.

ZDNet Korea's Kim Yong-Young reported from Seoul. Additional reporting by CNETAsia.