IBM Labs Open in Brazil, Kenya

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-08-20

IBM Labs Open in Brazil, Kenya

IBM announced the opening of its Natural Resources Industry Solutions Lab (NRIS Lab) in Sao Paulo celebrating yet another lab Big Blue has installed in emerging markets. IBM also recently announced a new research lab in Kenya.

IBM said its new Brazilian lab will help mining, oil and gas companies use innovative technology to meet the operational, environmental and supply demands facing the industry today. The new software development lab will be located in Sao Paulo but will have a national scope to service Brazil's growing natural resources industry.

The new lab will be connected to a global network of labs and industry solution centers enabling teams to share knowledge and expertise with local clients. The operations of NRIS Lab will be integrated with other existing local IBM facilities including IBM Research–Brazil, focusing on development; and the Natural Resources Solution Center, focusing on the development of solutions and interaction with clients.

"Making innovative technology rapidly available to help our clients is a key priority for IBM and this initiative is aligned with our strategy to strengthen this capability to help clients," said Fabio Scopeta, director of the IBM Brazil Software Lab, in a statement. "We'll combine technical and scientific potential to offer world-class projects as well as leveraging research, development and support from market specialists."

Operations will build on an environmental focus, including intelligent resource extraction, real-time analytics and big data management for the collection of data, according to Ulisses Mello, a natural resources executive for IBM Research–Brazil.

"The goal is to enable technology-driven operations and leverage predictive analytics, helping companies improve their natural resource extraction capabilities," Mello said in a statement.

IBM has established Natural Resources Solutions Centers (NRSC) in Rio de Janeiro (opened March 2011) and Perth, Australia (open in June 2010) to help companies in the oil, gas and mining industries speed up the adoption of innovative technology and business strategies.

NRSC works as a showcase of IBM solutions so that clients can experience hands-on demos of leading-edge technologies for the oil and gas and mining industries. The new Sao Paulo lab will focus on software R&D to create a specialized portfolio for this industry, which will be available at the NRSC in the form of demos, IBM said.

Meanwhile, on Aug. 13, IBM announced the opening of its first IBM Research lab on the African continent. IBM Research–Africa's first location in Nairobi, Kenya, is in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) through the Kenya ICT Board. The lab will conduct basic and applied research focused on solving problems relevant to Africa and contribute to the building of a science and technology base for the continent.

"IBM's commitment to undertake the proposed research agenda will contribute greatly to our national priorities as part of Kenya's Vision 2030," said His Excellency Honorable Mwai Kibaki, president of Kenya, in a statement. "We look forward to delivering world-class research and innovation as part of IBM's Smarter Planet initiative and playing an important role as an IT leader on the African continent."

IBM Continues to Expand Its Operations in Growth Markets


Key research areas that will be explored by IBM Research-Africa include next-generation public sector services, Smarter Cities research with a focus on water and transportation, and human capacity development to help boost the level of scientific and technical skills in Kenya and Africa overall.

IBM will use its big data solutions, advanced analytics, and cloud technologies to help government organizations draw insights and benefit from the vast amounts of data held by government agencies. This can help advance e-government capabilities such as helping to reduce the cost of social services, improving efficiency and productivity, deterring fraud and abuse, improving citizen access to services, and enabling digital interaction between citizens and the public sector, IBM said.

"IBM continues to expand its operations in key growth markets and we plan to lead the way by bringing Africa into our global network of IBM Research laboratories," said John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research, in a statement. "We plan to work closely with leading African scientists and engineers from academia, government and industry to address some of their most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities."

Operations at IBM Research-Africa will commence immediately. Expansion into other parts of Africa may be considered in a second phase, IBM said.

The new lab will establish a Resident Scientist Program, an international recruitment program to reach Kenyan and other African applicants. The program will aim to attract top R&D talent to work side-by-side with IBM researchers in the lab. The Resident Scientist candidates will be pre- and post-doctoral researchers, including scientists and researchers from academia, government and industry. The Resident Scientists will begin with a one-year tenure with options for this to be extended. Resident Scientists will be integrated into the IBM Research-Africa lab as well as IBM's global network of labs. Each Resident Scientist can collaborate with IBM researchers throughout IBM's global network of laboratories as they carry out their research.

"In today's world, innovation is the main lever for a competitive national economy, is a source of employment, and has the potential to improve lives," said Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary for Kenya's Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, in a statement. "The IBM research lab, will not only rubber-stamp Kenya as Africa's leader in ICT, but will help the country to transform into a knowledge-based economy."

IBM is making a significant investment in Africa and is ramping up its profile on the continent as part of its focus on emerging markets. The expansion program is part of a major business plan to increase IBM's presence in growth markets and support global strategy. The company is present in more than 20 African countries and recognizes the huge potential of research and smarter systems in transforming business, government and society across the continent.

"IBM has had a presence in Africa for more than 60 years, and we are now taking our presence to a new level," said Anthony Mwai, IBM's country general manager for East Africa, in a statement. "As we build a great workforce in Africa that is aligned with national goals and help governments and industries envision and build Africa's future, we are establishing a foundation for IBM's long-term success."

IBM Research-Africa will join existing labs in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.

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