Microsoft opened the doors to its brand new R&D centre in downtown Vancouver today, one that is expected to make way for 450 new development jobs in the area.
The grand opening drew several high profile attendees, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Columbia premier Christy Clark, and mayor Gregor Robertson.
Brad Smith, Microsoft president, was on site to make celebratory remarks.
“Vancouver is becoming a global centre for technology, and we’re committed to helping grow Canada’s innovation economy.” Smith said of the 142,000 square foot site, officially dubbed the Microsoft Canada Excellence Centre (MCEC). “Our new development centre will bring talented Canadians together with leading talent from around the world to help develop the technologies of tomorrow.”
With an additional 450 new R&D jobs, Microsoft’s staff in Vancouver will grow to more than 750 positions.
The company claims it will contribute $90 million of direct annual investment in the city and $180 million province-wide.
“There is no better time to invest in Canada,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “It is a real vote of confidence in the community, and in the talent and expertise of Canadian workers.”
In a statement, Microsoft said that it chose Vancouver for the R&D centre because of its network of universities and a strong technology environment.
Research done at the site will include fields such as artificial intelligence. Those at the centre will also collaborate with members of Microsoft’s global HQ in Redmond, Wash.
Other apps that could see development in Vancouver include Skype, OneNote, games, interactive television, mixed reality, and accessibility products.
The MCEC is located in downtown Vancouver at the renovated Granville Centre. It was designed by architect Clive Wilkinson, and will feature two 150-person multi-purpose community rooms, open and closed collaboration spaces, and a space for experimental hardware and software projects.