Intel's network of research labs in Europe now embraces more than 4,000 R&D professionals and has more than quadrupled in size since its formation in January 2009. The question that remains is: where is the return on investment for Intel and the benefit for Europe?
The growth, under Professor Martin Curley, director of Intel Labs Europe, has been remarkable. When ILE started it was partly a relabeling and opening up of the closed research Intel already had in Europe. In 2009 Intel had about 850 researchers and the formation of (ILE) was also partly to do with a high-level engagement with the Europe Union, which had missed its 2010 goals for fostering progress towards a knowledge-based society.
Professor Martin Curley, Intel vice president and director of Intel Labs Europe
At that time the EU reset its information technology goals for 2020 and asked Intel to step up and help out, like a good European citizen. ILE, which calls its research agenda Digital Europe, is now characterized by the numbers 40, 400 and 4,000.
ILE has more than 40 research locations with labs in most countries of Europe; 400 collaborations with local universities and companies and more than 4,000 R&D professionals employed. This puts Intel's R&D in Europe on a similar footing to its manufacturing effort here.
Intel never revealed what its European R&D budget was back in 2009 and Professor Curley was reluctant to discuss it for 2012 or 2013. But he admitted that calculations could be done of the typical employment loading of professionals on a company and multiplied up.
"It's greater than 100 million euros (greater than about $140 million) per year," said Professor Curley during a press tour to Leixlip, near Dublin, timed to coincide with the start of Ireland's presidency of the European Union. Even that seems a modest bill for 4,000 professionals, although not necessarily all are on Intel's payroll.
"The idea was always that the formation of the labs would create a network effect, a synergy," Professor Curley told the visiting press. "We are looking at demand-side innovation, usage models."
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The work at Intel Labs Europe maps into European Union goals for 2020