Ford is expanding its Silicon Valley presence with the opening of its Palo Alto’s Research and Innovation Center.

Ford said the opening of this new Research and Innovation Center allows the company to grow its global research team and accelerate its innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

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“At Ford, we view ourselves as both a mobility and an auto company, as we drive innovation in every part of our business,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “This new research center shows Ford’s commitment to be part of the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem – anticipating customers’ wants and needs, especially on connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. We are working to make these new technologies accessible to everyone, not just luxury customers.”

Ford_PaloAlto_Outside-668Ford added this all-new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins its global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

With the new facility, Ford expects to have one of the largest automotive manufacturer research centers in Silicon Valley by the end of the year. This research center will count on 125 researchers, engineers and scientists. Located in Stanford Research Park, the facility also expands Ford’s physical footprint – with further expansion planned in the near future. Ford opened its first Silicon Valley office in 2012.

The new research center is led by Dragos Maciuca, described by Ford as an engineer coming from Apple with a background in consumer electronics, semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace and automotive. As senior technical leader for innovation, Maciuca brings to Ford Silicon Valley experience advising startups, developing and commercializing products, collaborating with universities and leading cross-functional teams.

Maciuca holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from its Haas School of Business.