HP to open lab in Russia

Lab will primarily concentrate on core IT issues such as data extraction, information management and utility computing.

Hewlett-Packard is opening a research lab in Russia, a country that some believe could be technology's next major outpost.

HP's Russian lab will primarily concentrate on core IT issues such as data extraction, information management and utility computing. The country and its university system are particularly strong in computer science and math.

"We will tap into the analytic talent that is there," Shane Robison, an HP executive vice president and chief strategy and technology officer, said in an interview. Recruitment efforts are beginning, and the lab will be located in St. Petersburg.

Like other tech companies, HP has had a global presence for years and has operated in Russia as well. But business outside of the U.S. borders is increasing in importance. More than 60 percent of HP's business now comes from overseas, Robison noted.

The new lab will essentially allow HP to tap into the local talent pool, but also serve a diplomatic function by letting HP ensconce itself better into the business and scientific community. HP has opened labs in China and Bangalore, India, in the last few years. HP has also sponsored energy conferences in Russia.

Scientists in Russia make far less than their counterparts in Japan, Western Europe or the U.S. But HP is not opening the lab to cut costs, Robison said. China and India have shown, for example, that salaries for talented scientists rise rapidly.

To date, Russia has mostly been a foiled dream for futurists and IT investors. The country's large size, wealth in natural resources and long history of scientific achievement give it many of the ingredients of a potential boom market. Russians have also been behind companies such as SeaLaunch, a private rocket launching service, and Yandex, a search engine.

Corruption, political turmoil and intellectual property issues, however, have hampered the development of a tech industry in Russia to rival that in China or India. Many investors also complain about the lack of an entrepreneurial culture there.

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