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HP opens R&D lab in China

Beijing site--one of five such HP labs worldwide--will handle projects jointly with the Ministry of Education.

Hewlett-Packard's latest research and development laboratory has opened for business in China, the computing giant said Tuesday.

As previously reported, the Beijing site is one of five prestigious HP labs around the globe. The other sites are found in Palo Alto, Calif., where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard had their offices; Bangalore, India; Bristol, U.K.; Haifa, Israel; and Tokyo.

The Beijing lab opened Nov. 1 to correspond with the start of HP's new fiscal year, the company said. HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd was in Beijing at the time to mark the 20 years that HP has been doing business in that country.

Spearheading the new operations is director Meichun Hsu, who got her start at HP Labs in Palo Alto. She recently returned to HP after a stint at Commerce One, where she was senior vice president of engineering.

Hsu said her first task is to help develop new software that can handle billions of network users, a system that HP calls "scalable information management."

"As China expands its economy, there will be a lot of enterprises that will need to process information, transactions and content," Hsu said. "These are technologies that are focused on immediate needs in China but could be leveraged around the world."

Part of that includes expanding collaborations with universities under the research agreement it established earlier this year with China's Ministry of Education.

One of those projects involves using an open-source HP Labs technology to create one of the world's largest distributed virtual museums, whose massive online database would include content from more than 100 university museums throughout China.

Another project focuses on how to help the Ministry of Education collect resources from certain key universities and distribute them into the larger China Education Research Network.

While many of the lab's projects will be developed with an eye for how they will fit into the larger HP picture, Hsu said the lab will have a fair share of great ideas that will never get off the drawing board for various reasons.

"You may or may not have projects that will or will not stick, but you never know which is which," she said.

While HP Labs China is currently located in HP's Beijing offices, Hsu said HP is already looking for a second location where the lab can grow.

Hsu declined to give a headcount of people working at HP Labs China. Worldwide, HP Labs employs about 600 people.