The international communications company Motorola is to set up an advanced software engineering centre in Perth.
Plans for the $50 million project were announced in Perth today by Deputy Premier and Commerce and Trade Minister Hendy Cowan, who signed a memorandum of understanding with the managing director of Motorola Australia Software Centre, Richard Burford.
Mr Cowan said the research and development facility would be built adjacent to The University of Western Australia’s campus at Nedlands.
Motorola is one of the world’s leading providers of communications systems, including advanced electronics for defence and space programs. It employs about 142,000 people in 45 countries. In Australia, Motorola is a major provider of cellular phones and related information technologies.
“The decision by Motorola to set up a software engineering centre in WA is a critical component in our development as a world-standard centre of telecommunications excellence,” Mr Cowan said.
“It comes at a time when predictions are that the global market for devices designed to access communications networks and the Internet will rise from $US2.4 billion in 1999 to $US17.8 billion by 2004.”
The State Government, through the Department of Commerce and Trade, has negotiated an industry incentive package with Motorola valued at $5.4 million for the five-year first stage of the project.
The incentive will take the form of financial assistance towards meeting some establishment costs and part of those costs associated with relocation and recruitment of staff.
There is an option for an expansion of the project under a second five-year agreement.
As part of the agreement, The University of WA will invest an estimated $15 million to build a facility for Motorola. The first stage will provide 4,000sq.m of office space for 200 employees.
For its part, Motorola will invest in excess of $35 million over five years in salaries, recruitment and training, setting up advanced communication links, high speed local area networks (LANs) and high-powered work stations for software development.
The company will also allocate $1.5 million to employee training that will include training by local institutions and the use of Motorola in-house programs.
“In time, this project could employ up to 400 people in research for the IT and communications sector,” Mr Cowan said.
“It offers a great opportunity for the IT sector in WA to flourish and grow.
“Not only will this State help to meet the demand for IT graduates, it will also encourage our graduates to stay in Perth.
“The development is another step down the path to a more knowledge-based economy in WA.”
Mr Burford said WA's educational excellence, the availability of highly skilled postgraduate employees, a stable economy and its unique lifestyle qualities made it stand out ahead of other proposed Australasian locations.
"Our centres primarily serve Motorola's businesses worldwide with leading-edge automotive, Smartcard, electronic tools and software for semi-conductor design, and communications software,” he said.
“In doing so, they provide considerable export earnings for Australia.”
Motorola Australia Managing Director and Pacific Division President, John Gherghetta, said the corporation’s decision to select Perth for the centre would ensure that Australia remained at the forefront of Motorola’s technology drive.
“The readiness of Government to support our development plans, the quality of WA academic programs and graduates and the city’s lifestyle options makes Perth an exciting choice,” Mr Gherghetta said.
“I have no doubt we will be able to employ and retain many of the State’s top shelf software developers.”
The Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia, Professor Deryck Schreuder, welcomed the State Government's support for the Motorola initiative.
"This is a significant commitment from both Motorola and the Government towards creating an impetus for research in a rapidly growing area that UWA has identified as a strategic opportunity," he said.
"It recognises the capacity of the intellectual resources within the State, our universities and other research agencies. The capability of UWA and the other public universities to support this initiative is crucial for the long-term benefit of WA.”
Peter Jackson (Minister’s office) 9222 8788
Russell Grimmer (Motorola Public Affairs) 041 732 3922
Colin Campbell-Fraser (UWA Public Affairs) 9380 2889