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José Ángel Narváez, Scott Petty, Mário Vaz, Juanma Moreno and Paco de la Torre visit the Vodafone Innovation Campus and the UMA. Migue Fernández
Vodafone opens innovation campus shared with university and now employs more than 430 people in Malaga

Vodafone opens innovation campus shared with university and now employs more than 430 people in Malaga

The multinational is moving towards its goal of reaching 600 employees in its R&D hub, which is absorbing an investment of 225 million in five years

Friday, 22 September 2023, 20:27

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Vodafone has inaugurated the second headquarters of its Malaga R&D hub in the former school of nursing in the Martiricos district of the city. The hub works for the whole of Europe developing new generation technological solutions and digital services and already has more than 430 highly qualified employees of around thirty different nationalities.

This second location, in addition to the one that opened its doors in 2022 next to the railway station, is more than just offices: it is an "innovation campus" in which Vodafone works hand in hand with the University of Malaga (UMA - the owner of the property), through collaboration with its research groups and the recruitment of interns and recent graduates.

Vodafone is thus moving towards its goal of creating 600 direct engineering jobs in this European-wide innovation laboratory it has set up in Malaga. To this end, it is investing 225 million euros over a five-year period (this is the second year). This project, for which Malaga was chosen in 2021 from among seven European cities, is part of Vodafone's plan to recruit 7,000 software engineers in Europe by 2025.

The recently inaugurated Vodafone innovation campus has a total surface area of 950 square metres distributed in three buildings and capacity for more than 250 professionals. The facilities are fully equipped with 5G, ultrafast fibre and communication infrastructures (SD-Wan networks, IoT servers and cloud) and other necessary tools for the development of R&D projects.

The company already has plans to expand this campus in the future; as it continues to recruit staff there will come a time when these facilities will also become too small, just as the first offices did. This possibility is open thanks to the existence of some buildings adjoining the new site in Martiricos, also belonging to the University of Malaga and which are currently unused.

This was confirmed by the director of the Vodafone hub, Jesús Amores, who said that the company was "exceeding its expectations" in terms of the personnel it is managing to attract, "not only in quantity but above all in quality". "We have employees of 33 nationalities and also many people from Malaga and Andalucía who worked abroad and have returned to their homeland," he added.

In 18 months, the Vodafone Innovation Hub has recruited more than 430 workers, including 20 recent graduates following a five-month master's degree in product development and "agile" methodologies. Among the technical profiles currently in demand are software engineers, front-end and back-end developers, data engineers, SAP experts, developers and product owners.

The inauguration of this campus brought together this morning in Malaga the heads of the Andalusian regional government, Vodafone Spain, the city council and the University of Malaga. Andalusian president Juanma Moreno presided over the event, accompanied by three regional ministers (Carolina España, Rocío Blanco and Antonio Sanz). Mayor of Malaga Francisco de la Torre and the rector of the UMA, José Ángel Narváez, also took part. From Vodafone, the president and CEO of Vodafone Spain, Antonio Coimbra and Mário Vaz; the director of Technology of the Vodafone Group, Scott Petty; and Rafael Alcaide, territorial director of Vodafone in Andalucía, were present at the event.

The Malaga hub manages the business operations of the Vodafone Group and business customers in 11 countries, and specialises in the development of innovative technological solutions and digital services based on unified communications, Internet of Things, virtual private networks, Open RAN (the standard for open and interoperable networks), Edge Computing, connected vehicles, robotics, artificial intelligence, Cloud and Blockchain.

The opening of its second headquarters in Malaga represents "the expansion of its legacy with the aim of becoming an international benchmark for innovation and accelerating the digital transition with the creation of products and services of the future 50% faster, cheaper and in several countries at the same time, taking advantage of technology, experience and global scale", according to the operator.

Hand in hand with the UMA

The opening of the Innovation Campus is part of the agreement signed between Vodafone and the University of Malaga in January this year to "create synergies and promote R&D projects based on real business needs in multiple sectors". Both institutions want to boost their collaboration on projects related to the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, virtual private networks (VPNs) and the Open RAN mobile network standard. Some of the initiatives already being worked on with the UMA are linked to the application of machine learning models for vehicle mobility, analytics with the Internet of Things, innovations to improve hospital management and patient experience, energy savings and validation of solutions with Open RAN, among others.

"There are more than 40 research groups from the UMA that want to work with us," said the director of Vodafone's innovation hub, who has announced the forthcoming incorporation of the first batch of scholarship holders from the University (22 to be precise) to the centre.

"The opening of this new centre is a further demonstration of Vodafone's commitment to the Spanish market and to the research and development of the technologies that will shape the future. It is also a reflection of the high level that the Andalusian business and digital ecosystem is reaching, becoming an important global hub," said Rafael Alcaide, regional director of Vodafone in Andalucía.

"It is an honour to be part of this project in collaboration with the University of Malaga, for its educational work and for the close cooperation that has been established between both parties to promote the development of innovative solutions in the field of the Internet of Things, Open RAN, virtual private networks and artificial intelligence, among others," he added.

Juanma Moreno stresses that attracting digital talent is "one of our great aspirations as a society"

The President of the Junta de Andalucía highlighted the capacity of this Vodafone R&D centre to "attract talent" to Andalucia. "I have been surprised after talking to workers from countries such as Chile, Italy, Germany, who have come to Malaga attracted by this project. Also with many Andalusian returnees: that talent has returned thanks to this initiative. This attraction of digital talent is one of the great aspirations that we have as a society and that today we are taking very important steps," he said.

For Moreno, Vodafone's repeated commitment confirms that Andalucía "is an excellent place to create and export digital solutions to the rest of the world". "They were right to choose us again because Malaga is already one of the technological capitals of the country, nobody doubts it, and Andalucía is one of the great territories for investment, which is why we have tripled foreign investment in the last two years," he said. The president listed the "advantages of Andalucía as an innovative ecosystem": "the talent and knowledge that comes out of our universities and also from the new vocational training centres that we are incorporating; the innovative triangle that has come about between Malaga, Granada and Seville, which is going to be very powerful; the science and technology parks with large multinationals already established and the attraction of cities like Malaga for professionals with a certain specialisation, with its climate, bilingual and trilingual schools, its beaches, its golf courses, the third largest airport in Spain...".

Moreno concluded that the presence of companies such as Vodafone is an incentive to continue investing in the technology sector and to move towards "complete digitalisation with a target date of 2030". "The Junta is also becoming a technological hub. In the last five years we have made progress. In this first year of the term of office alone we have mobilised 200 million euros with the Digital Agency of Andalucía and we plan to invest a further 800 million until 2027. A large part of the progress and well-being of citizens lies in digitisation and the solutions offered by ICTs," he concluded.

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