Qualcomm to close software office in UI research park

Qualcomm to close software office in UI research park

CHAMPAIGN – Qualcomm has decided to close its software development office in the University of Illinois Research Park after three years in Champaign.

The office employs about 20 people, many of them former Motorola employees who worked for that company until it closed its local office in 2007.

San Diego-based Qualcomm, which informed employees of the decision last week, confirmed the decision Monday to The News-Gazette.

But Emily Kilpatrick of Qualcomm's corporate communications office would not say when the office will close, how many people work there or specifically where the work will move.

"We have decided to transition the work and resources to existing locations currently working on the same projects," she said in an e-mail.

Kilpatrick provided few details on why the office is closing, stating simply that the company "continually evaluates its global businesses in an effort to operate as effectively as possible."

She said Qualcomm is encouraging Champaign employees to consider opportunities elsewhere in the company and is offering them "transition assistance."

But Laura Frerichs, associate director of the University of Illinois Research Park, said the park will work to help Qualcomm employees get placed locally with other companies.

She said the employees are highly skilled programmers, well-versed in Bluetooth and Android technologies, that should be attractive to other companies.

Qualcomm designs chips used in cell phone products made by other companies. When the Champaign office opened, it was expected to develop software that would integrate the chips into those products.

"We're going to do software for wireless technologies, and the first projects will be Bluetooth-oriented," local site manager Walter Shore said at the time.

Qualcomm ranks 225th on this year's list of the Fortune 500, with annual revenues of $10.4 billion. Some of its major competitors include Nokia, Texas Instruments and Broadcom Corp.

As of September 2009, Qualcomm had 16,100 full-time, part-time and temporary employees worldwide. That was up 700 from a year earlier, primarily due to an increase in engineering resources, according to the company's annual report to shareholders.

In Champaign, Qualcomm offices are on the first floor of the Gateway Building at 1800 S. Oak St., C – the same building that formerly housed Motorola's local operations.

Qualcomm was a supplier to Motorola, and when it heard Motorola was closing the local office, it decided to open here.

Yahoo did the same thing, initially snagging about 100 former Motorola employees and opening an office at 2021 S. First St., C, in the research park.

With Qualcomm's departure, the research park will continue to be home to several other Fortune 500 companies, including Yahoo, Sony, Caterpillar, John Deere, ADM, State Farm and SAIC.

Founded in 1985, Qualcomm pioneered the digital wireless technology known as CDMA – Code Division Multiple Access –and helped enable 3G wireless technology as well.

Last month, the company reported it had net income of $767 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year, up from $737 million for the same period a year earlier.

For the first nine months of Qualcomm's fiscal year, the company had net income of $2.38 billion, up from $790 million for the similar nine-month period a year earlier.

Qualcomm's U.S. presence is heavily concentrated on the West, with major offices in San Diego, Las Vegas, Santa Clara, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., among other places.

Overseas, it has a strong presence in South Korea, China and Japan.


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