Motorola cuts R&D staffers

Motorola cuts R&D staffers

More than 50 jobs are on the chopping block as Motorola gets set to close its Sydney labs facility by the end of the year.

Motorola Pacific division president, John Gherghetta, said the cuts came in the wake of a corporate technology realignment that aimed to reduce time to market of new technologies.

He said redeployment options were being considered both locally and overseas for the research engineers and scientists.

Gherghetta said the Australian lab had its fingers in too many pots — a scenario that no longer fitted in with the streamlined corporate R&D strategy, which was carved out in September.

The Australian lab, which focused on six different areas — including human interaction; applications, content and services; networks and systems; physical realisation; wireless access; embedded hardware; and microelectronics and physical sciences -- wasn’t effective in developing critical mass or in pitching itself as a centre of excellence, he said.

The worldwide labs — mainly across Europe, the US and Asia — were better able to meet the criteria by consolidating the research into one or two technology streams, he said.

Gherghetta said he tried to sell the Sydney operation to head office but, in the final analysis, the increasing demand for new technologies to move more quickly from the lab to production led Motorola to make major changes in the way it brings its R&D to market.

And while the move was disappointing for Australia, the technical presence would continue to focus on growth areas including systems integration, embedded design and automation and IC chip design, he said.

Despite the difficulties created by the changing market place and global strategies, Gherghetta said the Australian market remained bullish thanks to strong government, infrastructure and mobile spending.

Meanwhile, on the IC chip design front, the Adelaide-based Embedded Design Automation group, a segment of the Global Software Group, has been chosen as a global IC and system-on-a-chip design centre for high-end semiconductor devices. “There are very few chip design centres in the world — and now Australia is one of them,” Gherghetta said. “Unfortunately, this news got overshadowed.”

The centre is on the lookout for local Australian talent, and expects to hire about 30 semiconductor specialists in the next three to five months.

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