German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen has inaugurated a new software development center in Lisbon that is expected to hire a total of 300 information technology specialists, without revealing the value of the investment.
In a statement on Tuesday, the company said that the new centre is to “develop software especially for digital ecosystems and internal corporate processes”. It is the third unit of its kind in the group and the first outside Germany (the others are at VW’s home base of Wolfsburg and in Berlin).
The inauguration ceremony was attended by Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the minister of economy, Pedro Siza Vieira, and the mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, among other prominent guests.
Speaking in English, the president started by saying that he felt “very, very happy today for several reasons”, firstly on seeing the palace, which he said he has known for “almost 60 years” having been refurbished and now housing an activity that looks to the future and not the past”.
“Secondly, I lived near here, three streets away, so I feel at home here,” he said, joking that this “is dangerous for you because, from time to time, I can show up and see what’s going on.”
Thirdly, he said, this “German investment” underscores “strong relations between the two countries, which are deepening and increasing every day, every week.”
He also said he had heard that there might be “a deal” in the next few days at “a German company you’ve heard of, in a factory you’ve heard of”, though without referring directly to VW.
The 5,900 employees of VW’s Autoeuropa unit on Tuesday began two days of plenary sessions to discuss a preliminary employment agreement that the Works Council and management reached on 25 October.
Of the total of 300 specialists to be hired at the new Lisbon centre, “mainly from the Portuguese labour market”, one third are expected to be working in cloud-based services, specifically for the commercial vehicle sector of MAN Truck & Bus, the company said. It added that it had chosen Lisbon because of its “affinity” with digital matters, “a closely linked network of startup and technology companies” and also an outstanding academic environment that produces highly skilled graduates.
Martin Hoffman, VW’s head of IT, said that “the development of software for new digital services will become a fundamental competence” for the company. Teams working in this and the other centres focus on “value-added services for brand digital ecosystems, including security-relevant frameworks, such as those required for the authentication of customer profiles for these services, or database encryption.