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Lenovo opens innovation center in Beijing

Lenovo has opened an innovation center in Beijing, hoping to win more business from Chinese customers.

Lenovo Group on Wednesday announced the opening of an innovation center in Beijing, the second that the company has set up since its acquisition of IBM's PC business earlier this year. The company hopes the center will help it win more business from Chinese customers, executives said.

Lenovo has already opened one innovation center in North Carolina, where it showcases its products alongside offerings from partners, including Intel and Microsoft., according to Andrew Flanagan, Lenovo's program director for the innovation centers.

The centers were created to help reassure customers that Lenovo will continue to develop innovative products and technologies following the acquisition of IBM's PC business, Flanagan said.

However, the centers are about more than just showing off Lenovo's products, according to Flanagan. Support executives are available at the centers to talk to customers about which products can help solve specific business problems, he said. In addition, the center is able to develop proofs of concept to demonstrate how these products would function inside a company's IT environment.

While the two centers are largely similar, there are differences between them, according to Flanagan. For example, the Beijing center includes a wider range of Lenovo-branded products that are not yet available to customers outside China.

"What the centers offer depends on what customers are grappling with in each market," Flanagan said.

One area that the North Carolina center will focus on is Windows Vista, the next version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, expected to be released next year, Flanagan said. The North Carolina center will test the beta version of Windows Vista and will offer training to companies who are planning to upgrade their systems to the new operating system, he said.

Flanagan wouldn't reveal the exact cost of opening the Beijing and North Carolina centers, but he said the costs had exceeded US$2 million, including "substantial" contributions from Lenovo and its partners.

Down the road, Lenovo plans to open additional centers, Flanagan said, noting that India and Europe are among the locations being considered.