Belfast Telegraph

£500k Invest NI backing for firm to develop audio technology of future

By Margaret Canning

A $1bn US technology company with offices in Northern Ireland and customers including Panasonic and Sony is working on improving the quality of audio in consumer devices.

Qualcomm Technologies International, which has a small base at Catalyst Inc in Belfast among 185 offices around the world, has received funding of nearly £500,000 from economic development agency Invest NI for the project.

Its aptX technology is used in wireless headphones, speakers, soundbars and smartphones.

Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager for voice and music at Qualcomm Technologies International, said: "AptX audio technology has helped to revolutionise the Bluetooth listening experience and more consumers than ever before are choosing wireless streaming as their preferred way of listening to music.

"We have a strong and passionate team of audio engineers and technologists in Ireland and the UK.

"R&D support provided by Invest NI will help us to further develop exciting next generation technology for wireless audio and ensure our next generation aptX technology helps to lead the way to new levels of sound quality in wireless audio."

The firm received R&D support of £472,000 from Invest NI.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said: "I am delighted that Qualcomm Technologies International has chosen Northern Ireland to further develop this ground-breaking technology.

"The company is a world-renowned innovator with many industry-leading consumer electronic brands such as Sony, Panasonic and Google using its aptX audio technology in their products.

"With this investment in R&D, we are helping Qualcomm Technologies International to continue to drive important technology innovation for wireless audio devices from right here in Northern Ireland.

"The audio industry is changing fast and our support is also helping the company take advantage of Northern Ireland's highly skilled workforce and local tech ecosystem."

Qualcomm Technologies International Ltd is a subsidiary of Cambridge Silicon Radio Holding Ltd. Its main focus is on designing and developing semi-conductor integrated circuits and software for technology and consumer-focused firms.

According to a strategic report filed with its latest results, the company makes significant investment in research and development.

In the year ending September 25, 2016, research and development costs were at $331.7m, up from $195.7m.

Revenue that year was $1.5bn, which was higher than the previous year's revenue of $522.1m following acquisitions and due to a longer financial year in 2016.

Most of its sales are made in Asia - at $1.35bn, compared to $51m in the USA and $107m in Europe.

Headcount was around 686 people at the end of the year - a decrease following cuts made within the group after an acquisition.

The business was founded to promote 'quality communications' in San Diego in 1985.

As well as consumer devices like smartphones, its technology is also used in healthcare, cars, mobile computing and the Internet of Things.

Belfast Telegraph

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