An Allied Telesyn R&D centre being redeveloped in Christchurch could employ more skilled New Zealanders than the much-discussed Motorola proposal.
The facility, which is being built in a new, larger building, will double the space of the communications hardware developer's current Christchurch R&D centre, says New Zealand country manager Paul Batchelor.
The number of developers will rise from 70 to 200 "or possibly slightly more". Motorola was proposing to employ about 200.
The R&D centre will be developing equipment to handle layer 3 and higher protocols, says Batchelor.
Allied Telesyn NZ originated as a division of the government's research department, the DSIR, and was privatised. It went though a number of identities, including Network Dynamics and Teletrend, before being taken over by US-based Allied Telesyn in June last year.
The US company began funnelling a large amount of R&D work to Christchurch. Having previously worked in co-operation with Teletrend, it had great respect for the skills of that company’s personnel, says Batchelor.
The company is regarded as a second-tier player by most of the international market, Batchelor acknowledges. “We come in the number two or three spot in selection lists, typically behind Cisco.”
But Allied Telesyn has won a number of significant customers in New Zealand, including real estate agent Harcourts and the Auckland University of Technology. Worldwide it has made a number of developments on network equipment ahead of Cisco, such as support of DES encryption, he says.
In Japan, the company is among the leaders in its market.
Work on development of routers in particular is ramping up with Allied Telesyn internationally, and the Christchurch developers are expecting to get a slice of this.
The expanded R&D centre is scheduled to be opened officially by deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton on 25 October.
A centre such as this is a magnet for local skilled people, Batchelor says, and the local company has seen only a small percentage of staff turnover.
“If you join a company in the US, you’ll be a small cog in a large machine. In New Zealand you have the chance to be a big fish in our small pond.
“We expect to have 100 developers in Christchurch by the end of this year, and to build up the other 100 over next year,” he says.
The Motorola R&D centre, for which several New Zealand cities were slated as a possible site, will now go to Brisbane.