French Telecom Giant Orange to Launch LA Research Center 'SiliWood'

The facility will focus on studying the interactions between the entertainment industry and technology and look to develop technologies for new digital formats.

PARIS – French mobile phone giant Orange – best known for providing cell and Internet service – will launch a research and development center called “SiliWood” in Los Angeles in 2014.

In partnership with advertising firm Havas Media, the center will focus on studying the continually blurring lines between the entertainment industry and content creation, as well as technology.

“Orange has expertise in converging digital content at the network and device level. By joining with Havas in the heart of the entertainment eco-system, we hope to take a deeper look at the business and talent issues around digital storytelling,” said Orange executive vp for strategy and development Elie Girard.

Starting with a series of roundtables enlisting studio execs and venture capitalists addressing the convergence of media, content, technology and data to be launched in January, the research center will focus on projects involving players in the L.A. entertainment industry and the burgeoning Santa Monica hub for start-ups. The name itself is a play on that convergence – Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

The center will also look at developing technologies for new digital formats and creating new user experiences for consumer content delivery.

Earlier this month, the company kicked off its Orange Fab, a start-up accelerator based in Silicon Valley and a series of talks from tech bigwigs, including venture capitalist Ben Horowitz of Andreessen-Horowitz. The talks will continue across California, including sessions at Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco, the Warner Brothers and Fox studios and the Academy of Motion Pictures in LA.

In strengthening its relationship with Silicon Valley and Hollywood, the former France Telecom hopes to become a stronger player in digital content delivery across mobile platforms. The company has more than 174 million mobile and 15 million fixed internet customers worldwide.

Applications for the startup accelerator open Nov. 1.