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Ford to open research lab in Silicon Valley

January 6, 2012 |  7:00 pm

Ford plans to join Silicon Valley.Ford Motor Co. plans to create and open a research lab in Silicon Valley this year, its first dedicated R&D operation on the West Coast.

The research lab is "further growing the company's commitment to make technology affordable for millions," the Dearborn, Mich., automaker said in a statement. Ford said its future "is not just about building cars" but also about creating "uncompromised personal mobility experiences for people around the world."

The lab will be used as a hub to help Ford develop partnerships with established and start-up tech firms and with universities in the area, such as Stanford. 

Ford Research and Innovation, the company's advanced engineering arm, plans to open the Silicon Valley lab in the first quarter. Some of the tech areas it will tackle there are seamless connectivity, cloud computing and clean tech. The lab will create an "innovation network," connecting to Ford's Advanced Design Studio in Irvine and to Ford employees working with connectivity-platform partner Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, Wash.

"Silicon Valley represents a deep and dynamic technology neighborhood and is far from Dearborn," said K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader for open innovation with Ford Research and Innovation. "With so many opportunities and so much potential, our new lab will allow us to scout new technologies and partners in their own environment and continue our expansion beyond the traditional automaker mindset to drive innovation."

The research lab's employees will include some local recruits and some people rotated in from the global network of Ford workers. Prasad said Ford's Silicon Valley office would not duplicate or replace the work being done at the company's Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn or at its overseas facilities in Germany and China.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally is scheduled to elaborate on the areas of focus for the Silicon Valley lab.


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-- Andrea Chang

Image: Ford is increasing its West Coast presence with the opening of a research lab in Silicon Valley. Credit: Ford