Nokia opens mobile handset research facility in Russia

Mobile phone giant Nokia has opened a new
mobile handset research facility at Skolkovo, a Russian government-supported
innovation center near Moscow.

Nokia’s research will initially focus on
high performance mobile computing, mobile health, wellness solutions and
nanotechnologies for future mobile devices.

Skolkovo, a Silicon Valley-style hub under
construction, is a cornerstone of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s
modernization and innovation drive since he assumed the presidency in 2008.

Nokia’s presence there puts it alongside
the likes of U.S.-based Cisco Systems and Germany’s Siemens AG.

Nokia declined to disclose how much money
it is investing at Skolkovo, according to a report in MarketWatch.

“Time will show. We are in an early
phase and gradually building up our presence there,” Tapani Ryhanen,
director of Nokia’s European research operations told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Nokia executive said intellectual
property rights over innovative products developed at Skolkovo remain an issue,
but he expects rules over intellectual property to strengthen after Russia
becomes a full member of the World Trade Organization next summer.

Nokia employs a handful of researchers at
the research center so far, but expects to employ more than 10 by the end of
next year. Initially they are working within the main Skolkovo School of
Management campus but will move into their own purpose-built lab once
construction is completed in 2013 or 2014.

“Looking at Russian universities and
Russian scientists in mathematics and physics, the level is really outstanding,
so Russia is a good place to hire researchers,” Ryhanen said.

Craig Barrett, co-chairman of the Skolkovo
Foundation Council which set up the Russian project, said there is a lot of
work to be done in terms of intellectual property rights in Russia.

“One of the proposals on the table is
in fact to create a core IPR protection on the Skolkovo site as a statement of
how important intellectual property rights actually will be in the
future,” said Barrett, a former chief executive of Intel.

He acknowledges there are also concerns
over issues of minority shareholders’ rights and corruption in Russia, which is
a work in progress. And some onlookers fret that a change of president could
see the level of government support for the project diminish.

By Team
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