American powerhouse UL chooses La Ciotat for its European center of expertise

success story
American powerhouse UL chooses La Ciotat for its European center of expertise
18 April 2017 / Logiciel / Conseil / SSII, Implantez, Générale, Microélectronique / IOT, Média
UL was awarded the "Invest in Provence" label at the MWC

In 2017 Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the American titan in product security, will open its European center for transaction security expertise in La Ciotat. Within two years, the site is expected to employ around 50 engineers. This opening supported by Provence Promotion is a major investment for the region. UL which boosts the IT security profile of the Aix-Marseille-Provence region, was awarded the "Invest in Provence" label at the Mobile World Congress 2017.

UL closes the gap in today’s security challenges by safeguarding digital assets, ensuring compliance with standards and global interoperability between products and systems. Cyber hygiene has never been more important.  Global awareness of digital security threats and the growing importance of data privacy and security is crucial. UL nurtures this awareness globally, as we believe that the best way to empower people to make the right decisions is by educating them.

Our life, both professional and private, is increasingly connected to Internet of Things (IoT) and these systems are  being targeted by malicious people more and more, as the weak link to access buildings, steal data and harm people and companies. UL aims at minimizing risks by assessing software vulnerabilities and weaknesses, minimizing exploitation and addressing known threats to review and increase security awareness and controls. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, some 500 banks, solution providers and manufacturers use UL's expertise every day to ensure the security of electronic transactions.
UL previously located in Aubagne near the headquarters of Gemalto, a manufacturer and world leader in smart cards, has now decided to invest in La Ciotat. This major investment was recognized with the "Invest in Provence" label, accepted by Erwin Jansen, Managing Director for EMEA/LA at UL Transaction Security during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"We are pleased to invest in this region that has historically been a fertile ground for new technologies, microelectronics, secured communicating solutions and the internet of things," explained Erwin Jansen. "The presence of several multinationals and start-ups creates an attractive environment for UL's growth. The IT talent and quality of life in Provence are also two great assets."

Thus it was not just the vibrancy of the industry, driven by the National RFID Center, Connectwave, the global competitiveness cluster for secured communicating solutions (SCS) and the Aix-Marseille French Tech label, that persuaded UL management to build its European expertise center on the shores of the Mediterranean; it was also won over by the quality of life in the region and the French flair for IT. This highly strategic location will host a laboratory specializing in computer security, where tests will be conducted on physical transactions and online transactions involving credit cards.

Tenfold increase in hiring

To carry out all the tests, UL will expand its workforce from 10 to 50 employees in 2019. In late January, 23 engineers were recruited and new hires are planned for the coming months.

Provence Promotion is assisting with this expansion program. The agency is sharing with UL its familiarity with the region and is playing its customary role as middleman connecting UL with the best local resources.
"Provence Promotion suggested options to explore in our searches for real estate and for funding. Its staff put us in touch with several local partners and they are always available to answer our questions," notes Marie-Noëlle Lemaire, manager of the UL Transaction Security site in la Ciotat.

Provence Promotion will help the American giant through the various hiring phases.

UL, which first specialized in the certification of electrical networks, was founded in 1894 in Northbrook, Illinois, UL is a global independent safety-science organization with a worldwide team sharing a passion to make the world a safer place. They aim today to enable Trust in the digital society as our life is increasingly connected. UL provides advisory, testing, inspection and certification to ensure security, compliance and interoperability following industry best practices and our global experience.

For over a century UL has been innovating in methodologies to increase safety and security, with a focus on emerging technologies. The American powerhouse created the UL-EU mark for pan-European certification recognized around the world. UL fosters safe living and working conditions for people everywhere through the application of science to solve safety, security and sustainability challenges with a team of 10,842 people in 113 countries. UL’s Transaction Security Division alone has a team of 500 experts (engineers, scientists, chemists and technicians) in 44 countries.