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SAP Latin America makes multimillion-dollar investment in R&D

Innovation focus continues despite local economic crisis.

SAP Latin America is making a multimillion-dollar investment to expand its Brazil-based innovation capability, the company has announced.

The firm's innovation lab in São Leopoldo, in the south of the country, will be expanded and workforce doubled as part of a plan to respond to the local slowdown in client spending.

An investment of 120 million reais ($30.8 million) will go towards building a new 80,000 square feet facility in a technology park in the same city. The project, which will boost the space SAP is currently using for R&D by 45 percent, will commence this year and completion is expected for 2020.

The company currently employs more than 1,000 staff in its innovation labs in Latin America and it is expected that another 1,000 employees will be hired by 2022, according to SAP Labs president, Dennison John.

There was a 30 percent hiring boost at the Labs between 2016 and 2017, which John attributes to a company-wide focus on innovation despite the local recessionary climate.

"There is a number of factors that explain [the workforce growth in R&D] but the main reason is that we are placing out bets on innovation," the executive says.

"We seek to address our clients' challenges with digital transformation - and for that to happen there needs to be a context that includes research investment, but also incentives and attraction of professionals with disruptive thinking," he adds.

SAP Labs Latin America started operations in 2006 with 20 professionals. Last year, it became one of the global centers to focus on SAP Leonardo , the company's digital innovation platform,
in addition to New York, Paris an Bangalore.