Salesforce launches Innovation Centre for customers and partners

Salesforce today made good on its promise to help UK businesses innovate and digitally transform by officially opening a dedicated centre at its London headquarters.

Andrew Lawson, the firm's executive vice president of EMEA, greeted assembled customers and industry guests to mark the introduction of what Salesforce is calling its Innovation Centre. The big unveiling follows a similar launch in San Francisco last month and it is expected that other countries will open their own centres in due course, too.

"The opening today is a real celebration for us. It's a prime time; it's about our investment in the UK market. We are the second biggest region outside the US and London is the number two city," Lawson said.

"It's something we're all very proud of and we will continue to invest and expand not only in our premises - we have offices now in Staines, Manchester and Glasgow - but also investment in our headcount and, more importantly, our ecosystem."

He added that the Innovation Centre would help customers, prospective customers and partners "drive innovation into their businesses". One floor below, Salesforce is also expanding a floor for staff, customers and non-profits to use the space free of charge.

Margot James, MP and minister for digital and the creative industries, was also present as part of the official opening ceremony, and pledged the government's support for creating and maintaining a thriving digital economy in the UK.

"We want the UK to be one of the best places in the world to start and grow a digital business. Considering [Salesforce's] growth, it sounds like we are achieving that aim," she said. "Through this investment you're making, you will enable businesses up and down the country to benefit from enterprise cloud solutions and increase productivity. That will, in turn, further strength the UK's position as a global leader in technology and innovation."

Saying the UK's growth has been "heavily skewed" to London and the South East, James highlighted Salesforce's Manchester and Glasow offices too, adding that a core mission of the government's Industrial Strategy is to boost economic development across the country.

"It's so important to me personally and to the business secretary, Greg Clark, to really close the gap between London and the South East and the rest of the country. And, obviously, not in a way that depresses London and the South East."

The strategy will act as a foundation for productivity growth across the UK, fuelling creativity and innovation, according to James. The government will build on this foundation by increasing the amount of money invested in UK R&D so it stands at 2.4% of GDP. This equates to a boost in public and private R&D investment of as much as 80 billion over the next 10 years.

"One of the most important generators of that growth will be ideas. We aim to be the world's most innovative economy and we can only do that by building on our strengths. Strengths like Salesforce, strengths like our science, innovation, R&D," James added.

"We will also do more to commercialise our research and diffuse it through the whole economy. It's very important we do that with technology. The industry is really, in some cases, just scratching the surface of what AI and wider technologies can do for it, for the bottom line and to inspire and liberate employees to do much more interesting and stimulating work.

"So the opening of this innovation centre which I'm really proud to be associated with - is a very welcome sign that the policies outlined in our digital and industrial strategies are creating the right environment where businesses want to commit to long term growth in the UK."

The Innovation Centre opening also served to reiterate Salesforce's commitment to increasing STEM education and ensuring younger generations feel excited about and motivated to work in the tech industry. To that end, a group of pupils from School 21 in Stratford, which Salesforce has worked with for some time, were in attendance.

"It's better than double physics, isn't it?" Lawson quipped. "We're delighted to have you here this morning. We have a number of challenges in our industry. One of the main ones is that 50% of people fall into our industry. They're not saying I'm going to join a technology company.' We have to change this. We have to make sure that we enable these people to see that they can have a great and fulfilling career in our industry."

James echoed Lawson's thoughts around STEM and tech jobs, saying: "We do need to inspire the young people to look first at careers in technology, because jobs in tech are growing 2.5 times faster than the rest of the economy. So it's a good future for people now considering tech as a career."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.