Japanese Telco NTT Makes A Big Bet On Silicon Valley With Launch Of Its Innovation Institute

Japanese telecom NTT is the latest multi-billion dollar company to embrace Silicon Valley with the opening of a new Innovation Institute there. In doing so, it’s following companies like Samsung, Huawei, and Comcast in mimicking the local startup culture in an effort to build creative new applications.

One of the reasons that innovation centers have become all the rage these days is that few really large organizations are well-equipped to keep up with the pace of innovation happening in the startup world. Given the amount of bureaucracy that creeps in, not to mention the need to justify each decision based on a P&L sheet, it can be difficult to drive imaginative new development in that environment.

As a result, these companies are building outposts that recruit local talent and carry the same general ethos as their Silicon Valley brethren: Small teams, agile development, minimum viable product, all that stuff. The goal is to strip away all the corporate bullshit and GET SHIT DONE.

NTT is no different. Through the R&D center, the company is looking to incubate new application ideas and partner with other local developers in the area … all in the name of sponsoring innovation.

The NTT Innovation Institute is focused specifically on developing applications and solutions that can be commercialized in the next 12-18 months. It’ll be working on stuff like machine learning and managed services security technologies — you know, real enterprise applications that can be sold to NTT clients.

The idea is to have the best of both worlds, giving NTT the ability to build technology quickly in Silicon Valley, and then leverage its massive distribution network to get it widely deployed.

Not only will that help its own internal development, but it could also prove valuable to local startups who have already built technology that the NTT finds useful. One reason for being based in Silicon Valley is that the Innovation Institute is at ground zero for tech innovation. Rather than re-invent the wheel, NTT plans to partner with and possibly invest in local startups it works with.

The R&D center opened in May, and it already has more than 35 employees on board, according to CEO Srini Koushik, who has run similar efforts for organizations like IBM. Koushik plans to increase that to 50 by the end of the year and adding even more in 2014. The team is currently working out of a 6,500 square foot office in San Mateo, but will soon be finalizing construction on a 28,000 square foot office in Palo Alto that it plans to move into early next year.