Mobile phone operator Vodafone is moving its innovation hub from California's Silicon Valley to London as it seeks to capitalise on a wealth of technology skills and talent in the UK and Europe.
The Vodafone 'xone' hub in London will be responsible for developing new mobile technologies, with a focus on building and testing prototype devices and developing apps and services tailored for the group's largest markets in Europe, Africa and India.
"Establishing a new hub for Vodafone xone in London will bring our product development team closer to the customers it serves," said Stefano Parisse, Vodafone's consumer services director. "It will allow us to draw on a vast pool of technology talent in the UK and Europe and simplify our development process, enabling us to get the very latest technology into the hands of our customers as quickly as possible."
Fay Arjomandi, a technology entrepreneur who joined Vodafone in January 2011 to head the company's incubator in Redwood City, will leave "to pursue other opportunities". Pratapa Bernard has been appointed as the new head of Vodafone xone, reporting to Parisse.
Vodafone Ventures, the organisation's venture capital arm, will remain headquartered in California and will continue to work with early-stage start-ups in the US, while Vodafone Global Enterprise, which provides businesses in the US with mobile services, will also maintain its presence in Silicon Valley.
According to reports, the xone hub will also be responsible for incubating 10-20 start-ups at a time that are exploring apps or services that could complement Vodafone's technology in the future.
It is believed that Vodafone, recently voted the worst overall mobile phone company in the UK, will grow the size of the xone team from five to 20 to coincide with the move.
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