EMC Opens Research Arm in Cambridge, Joins MIT Media Lab as Sponsor

EMC has joined the growing ranks of major information technology companies boosting their R&D presence in Kendall Square, creating EMC Research Cambridge, a small research arm near MIT. It has already moved the headquarters of RSA Laboratories to the new outpost, and has signed on as a corporate sponsor of the MIT Media Lab. The company made the announcements today as part of XSITE, the Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, where EMC senior vice president and chief technology officer Jeff Nick is taking part in a keynote session called Investing in Innovation.

But while the EMC move in some senses follows on the heels of Google and Microsoft, both of which have set up shop in Kendall Square in the past couple of years, the company says it has had an R&D presence in Cambridge for at least a decade, and has long worked with Boston area universities and startups on a variety of efforts. Now, EMC says, it is not only moving closer to the action and deepening ongoing relationships and initiatives, but also prototyping a different model of research and advanced development.

Only a few researchers will be permanently housed in the new lab. Instead, the company plans to rotate through a series of staff members on a regular basis—not just researchers and engineers, but also representatives from various business divisions—with the aim of coupling staff members closer to the leading edge of technology on several fronts. EMC Research Cambridge will also link into the existing EMC Innovation Network, which ties the company’s research and advanced technology groups and university partners around the world into collaborations that include the company’s research arm in China, its Santa Clara (CA) Incubation Lab, and other groups.

In this way, the Cambridge lab represents a model of how to extend research by utilizing existing resources in more effective ways, not adding staff, says Burt Kaliski, director of the EMC Innovation Network, which is part of the CTO’s office. “In the world we operate in today, the Web 2.0, globalized world, we’re looking for ways to leverage the potential that exists inside and outside the company to make us a more effective company and understand technology trends that are driving and disrupting information infrastructures,” Kaliski says. “Because we are a virtual team, we’ll have touch points in many areas.”

The director of EMC Research Cambridge is Rob Masson, a five-year veteran of EMC who has spent the last two years in the Advanced Technology Ventures group (also in the CTO’s office). I met with him and Kaliski in the new lab, at 11 Cambridge Center in Kendall Square. (VMware, in which EMC owns a majority stake, also has an R&D lab a short walk from EMC Research Cambridge.) They explained that … Next Page »

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