Comcast's NBCU opens tech center in N.J.

The center in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., has a "smart bar" where employees can play with phones, tablets, laptops.
The center in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., has a "smart bar" where employees can play with phones, tablets, laptops.
Posted: February 06, 2014

Months after Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. dissolved a technology partnership, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal announced Monday that it has opened a $17 million, 340-employee technology center at its complex in Englewood Cliffs, Bergen County, N.J.

This is the same complex that houses CNBC, NBCUniversal's cable-TV business news channel.

The new technical center, which includes the futuristic-looking NBCUniversal Media Labs, is part of a broad investment by Comcast into software engineers and innovation in its cable-TV, Internet, and entertainment businesses.

Comcast expects to break ground this summer on a 59-story tower in Philadelphia, tentatively called the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, to enhance and accelerate the development of new products.

The cable giant also has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into start-up companies through a company-owned venture fund, with offices in Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, and New York.

Heading the new NBCUniversal Media Labs will be former AT&T chief technology officer Sanjay Macwan.

At AT&T, Macwan organized a program that allowed start-up companies to pitch their ideas to AT&T executives.

Macwan wrote on an AT&T website in 2011: "We're on track to meet with 400 start-ups through fast-pitch events. And we're not about to stop. We'll be ramping up our efforts to reach even more entrepreneurs."

Macwan, an NBCUniversal senior vice president and chief technology officer of Media Labs, said Monday that he would be looking at how to monetize entertainment and news more effectively with second screens, such as smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, and emerging technologies.

Macwan, who holds 14 patents, said he would be analyzing data "to understand what consumers are doing." He also is expected to work with academic research groups, start-up companies, and global venture funds to develop new business models.

Media Labs will be one unit in the Englewood Cliffs technology center, which was designed to emulate a Silicon Valley office, with open spaces and a "smart bar" where employees can toy with the newest phones, tablets, and laptops.

Comcast and Verizon recently confirmed that they had dissolved a highly touted partnership to develop next-generation products to focus on their own research projects.


bfernandez@phillynews.com

215-854-5897

@bobfernandez1

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