HMD Global starts a new Global R&D center in Tampere Finland

HMD Global, the startup company that is behind the Nokia Mobile and the return of Nokia to the smartphone business, announced it is acquiring Valona Labs, which marks the foundation for the brand-new R&D Centre in Tampere, Finland. This acquisition is an important move for HMD Global since it represents the financial strength of the company and further investments in the security aspects of the OS, which could be beneficial to enterprises and regular users of Nokia phones. 

Valona Lab is a young company that specializes in the mobile, enterprise, and cybersecurity software. Their expertise will help HMD Global bring even faster software updates and security to Nokia smartphones. The new Centre of Excellence will be developing but not limited to HMD Connect, Remote device locking, Enterprise mobility management, Mobile device software security, Secure network communication, and Black box testing.

We got a chance to chat a bit with Juho Sarvikas and Ari Heikkinen, who is coming from Valona Labs and is appointed as a Senior Director of Security and Enterprise Solutions at HMD Global. We discussed the current strategy and what this means for HMD Global as a startup.

Juho stated that HMD Global is dedicated to bringing Nokia smartphones and HMD Global back to Nokia’s roots. The entrance in the software development does resemble Nokia’s late D&S department that had both strong hardware and software development. 

He also revealed that HMD is planning on recruiting new developers and engineers in the Finnish city of Tampere where the new R&D will be situated, but also in Espoo. If you remember, Nokia used to have an R&D center in Tampere, which still represents a large pool of skilled engineers that used to develop new technologies for Nokia. Valona Labs’ intellectual assets will be used to develop security software and features for services like HMD Connect, and some new services inside the My Phone app.

Juho also said that this is a new beginning on bringing faster software updates to Nokia phones but Nokia Mobile will still rely on partners to develop software updates and do tests for various markets. Nokia Mobile now has numerous R&D centers, some are their own, but some are based on high-quality partners like Valona Labs used to be. It was interesting to hear that there is an imaging R&D team in Taiwan, software developers in India, and now a new Global R&D center in Tampere Finland.

Juho also confirmed that even more affordable 5G phone than 8.3 5G is coming with the latest SD695 5G chip and that they are focused on high-end devices too. But, no news about Nokia 9 since I got a standard can’t make any comment answer, but Juho did say that Nokia Mobile will be more active on selling accessories, and he also took note of Nokia hoodies and shirts.

Here is the full press release below.

HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, founding new Centre of Excellence in Finland for R&D 

 New Centre of Excellence will see the company undergo an immediate recruitment drive and double down on delivering secure, reliable and dependable mobile experiences 

 · HMD Global announces it is acquiring assets of Valona Labs – a mobile, enterprise and cybersecurity software company 

· The acquisition forms part of HMD Global’s ongoing commitment to mobile security and forms the foundations of its brand-new Centre of Excellence in Tampere, Finland  

· The new centre will specialise in software, security related intellectual property and services, and will propel HMD Global’s transition from a purely hardware business, to a combined hardware and services company 

· There will be an immediate recruitment drive for software professionals that can help develop new services such as HMD Connect, as well as processes that build upon the company’s reputation as a global leader in smartphone software updates and securityi 

 LONDON, 2 JULY – HMD Global, the home of Nokia phones, today announces it is acquiring assets of Valona Labs and launching a brand-new Centre of Excellence in Tampere, Finland. Combining HMD Global’s commitment to delivering secure, reliable and dependable mobile experiences with Valona Labs’ expertise in mobile, enterprise and cybersecurity software, the acquisition of assets will further build upon the company’s reputation as a global leader in smartphone software updates and security1.  

 The new Centre of Excellence in Tampere will specialise in software, security and services, propelling HMD Global’s transition from a purely hardware business, to a combined hardware and services company, diversifying its intellectual property and differentiating its unique go-to-market offering.  

 In March this year, HMD Global entered a new service category with the launch of its global data roaming service, HMD Connect, which enables people around the world to benefit from a hassle-free data SIM. Over the coming months, the centre in Tampere will concentrate on developing this service further and begin work on other services such as remote device locking, enterprise mobility management, mobile device software security, secure network communication and black box testing. There are also ambitions to expand the scope of the centre to include imaging and audio technologies in the future. The centre will create an immediate need to hire new technical talent in the region and will be led by the former award-winning Head of Unit for Valona Labs, Ari Heikkinen.  


Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer, HMD Global, says: 

“As a company that believes every phone should be built upon the foundations of security, reliability and dependability, we are proud to announce the acquisition of assets of Valona Labs – a renowned and trusted mobile software business.  

Nokia phones are known around the world for purposeful innovation and our pure, secure and up-to-date AndroidTM promise ensures people receive a smartphone experience that continues to get better over time. This is one of the reasons we maintain our position as leaders in fast OS updates. According to research from Counterpoint1, we are, in fact, the fastest brand, covering 94% of our portfolio. By bringing in assets from Valona Labs, we will be in a stronger position than ever to deliver on this promise and further build the trust of our fans, which is one of our core values as a business. 

We pride ourselves on our Finnish roots and our premium Nordic design, which is why we’re delighted to be bringing this new Centre of Excellence to Tampere. Through the acquisition of these assets, we will lay the foundations of a R&D hub that will transform our business and the products we offer to our fans.” 

 Newly appointed Senior Director of Security and Enterprise Solutions at HMD Global, Ari Heikkinen adds:  

“We have been working closely with HMD Global for quite some time and I’m excited to announce our collaboration today as we continue to strengthen our partnership. With this new Centre of Excellence, we are striking whilst the iron is hot. Cybersecurity incidents have been on the rise during this global pandemic, meaning there’s no better time to increase our efforts on mobile security.”

Tampere is renowned as a destination for technological development, particularly in relation to mobile innovation. We look forward to leveraging the region’s expertise and will be exploring various collaboration opportunities with different companies in the area, as well as with Tampere University’s technology department. As we continue to expand, there will be an immediate need for fresh talent to join our ranks and I’m personally excited for the many opportunities this will bring for Finland in the future.”  

Harri Ojala, Director, Investments and Global Operations at Business Tampere says:  

 As an independent Finnish company and the only major European smartphone brand, we are delighted to welcome HMD Global and its new Centre of Excellence to Tampere. Tampere has already proved to be a place for new ideas and innovative thinking. I look forward to seeing this new centre thrive in this environment.”