independent

Friday 18 April 2014

HP set to hire 150 engineers for new Galway R&D hub

Martin Murphy, CEO of HP. Photo: Jason Clarke.
Martin Murphy, CEO of HP. Photo: Jason Clarke.

Global computing and services giant Hewlett-Packard's new Irish research and development centre will add up to 150 engineering jobs here, according to HP chief executive Martin Murphy.

Aiming to be the multinational's go-to innovation destination in Europe, work has started at the 90,000sq ft Galway facility, to be completed by early 2015.

"When complete that will bring our capacity to 800 for research engineers there," said Murphy. "Today we have about 650."

One of the Galway research arm's recent innovations radically improved how retailers tackle a major event like the horse-meat crisis.

"We developed a product recall solution with global food standards body GS1 that reduced the time of recall from 42 days to just an hour, reducing the need to race to clear shelves," said Murphy. "It's a style of traceability system that can work for cars, toys, everything."

The Galway base has a centre of excellence working on delivering local and international solutions into the healthcare arena and was involved in devising a drug authentification system to combat counterfeit medication.

"We developed a technique where you use a scratch card, there's an ID on the product and you text the number to a cloud-based centre and they can validate it," said Murphy.

Research focus has increased at HP's Belfast base also, where the number of engineers there has doubled to 80 in the last 12 months, Murphy said.

With falling computer sales as consumers opt for smartphones and tablets instead, and Chinese behemoth Lenovo outflanking it as the world's top computer seller, Hewlett-Packard's embattled global chief executive Meg Whitman has been pushing to reinvent the company. Once mainly involved in manufacturing, now Ireland is key to Whitman's innovation mission, Murphy said.

"A lot of what we do in Ireland is now research and development," said Murphy. "If you go back to what Meg is doing and her influence in HP, one of the biggest differences she has made is to drive the innovation agenda.

"She has driven the innovation ethos of the company and I think that has given us a fantastic story to tell. It impacts Ireland positively because it plays directly into what we're doing here. It's a great story for Ireland to be part of.

"We've essentially moved from a products business 10 years ago to a service-led business now in Ireland."

Hewlett Packard Ireland recently won a €120m contract to provide services and applications into the healthcare services in Northern Ireland.

"We've had a number of notable contract wins across the business in the last year, including Bord Na Mona, DAA and Irish Life," added Murphy.

The company is a top providers of contract services to state bodies and agencies.

It is still fielding fallout from its acquisition of Tipperary-born software tycoon Mike Lynch's Autonomy.

The €8bn deal was Europe's largest ever technology buyout when inked in 2010. However, after several months, HP cried foul. It wrote down the value of the acquisition by a staggering €6.4bn post acquisition, claiming there were major irregularities in Autonomy's financials. Autonomy's former top executives, including Lynch, reject this claim.

Irish Independent

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