THRIVING high-technology companies are offering career opportunities in the Pearl River Delta region for engineers who specialise in product research and development, as their customers continue to move their manufacturing and development operations to southern China. Motor devices manufacturer NanoMuscle, which has its headquarters in Silicon Valley in the United States, is hiring about 100 people for its new product design centre in Futian, Shenzhen. Employees at the new centre, which opened last month, will collaborate closely with NanoMuscle's customers who have operations in the Pearl River Delta and other parts of China. With most clients coming from the toy or vehicle sectors, the company also has plans to set up a sales and customer support unit in the mainland targeting the vehicle industry. 'Our new facilities are aimed at ensuring that customers can realise the full benefits of deploying silent, low-cost NanoMuscle motors in their products - from the initial design stage through high-volume production,' said NanoMuscle president and chief executive Rod MacGregor. He said multiple hardware engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, materials scientists, quality assurance engineers, field application engineers and technicians were needed for the new centre, in addition to several managers, directors and vice-president-level staff. A sales and customer support unit serving clients from the Chinese vehicle industry was also expected to be established. These positions were open to Hong Kong residents who are ready to work full time in Shenzhen, while compensation would be 'appropriate for a Shenzhen-based high-technology company', Mr MacGregor said. 'Experience in one of our target industries is desirable. Our initial target markets are children's toys and automotive. English-language skill is also advantageous.' Mr MacGregor said that, as a Silicon Valley-based hi-tech company doing advanced R&D and product development in China, NanoMuscle offered valuable experience for its employees' careers in the mainland. Founded in 1998, NanoMuscle is a privately held company financed by venture capitalists and corporations in the toy and vehicle markets. It aims to provide silent motors at a low cost, using a new technology for high-volume applications in homes, cars, and offices. NanoMuscle also has offices in Germany. Last February, NanoMuscle set up an office in Hong Kong to act as the company's Greater China headquarters. Its investors include AutoVision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler Capital Services, the financial arm of the automotive giant, as well as Hong Kong-based toy manufacturer Jetta. The demand for research and development engineers is rising because toy and vehicle companies are increasingly moving their own design and manufacturing sites to the Pearl Delta River region. On the advantages of doing product design in southern China, Mr MacGregor said: 'Southern China has the largest concentration of toy manufacturers in the world and, in turn, has a rich population of highly skilled engineers and developers. 'We get the additional benefit of doing development close to our manufacturing sites that are also in southern China. 'Our customers are increasingly designing and manufacturing their products in the region, so the proximity to our customers' engineering groups makes concurrent development easier,' Mr MacGregor said. 'Finally, there is a substantial economic benefit of doing this sort of work in China.' According to the 2004 salary survey compiled by Shanghai-based recruitment company J. M. Gemini, the monthly salary for an engineer in Shanghai averages between 4,000 and 6,000 yuan, while a QA manager's salary ranges between 9,000 and 12,000 yuan. Shenzhen's average salary is the third-highest in the mainland after Shanghai and Beijing, according to popular online recruitment website ChinaHR.com. Futian is in the centre of the Shenzhen Special Administration Zone, less than 15 minutes' drive from the Lowu border. Official statistics show that until 2002, the population of the 78.8 squarekm district was more than 8.8 million. The figures also show that up to last year, there were more than 750 technology enterprises. Flexing its muscles Motor devices manufacturer NanoMuscle is hiring about 100 people for its new product design centre in Futian, Shenzhen. Hardware, software, mechanical, quality assurance, field application engineers, and materials scientists are among the openings in addition to management staff. Such demand is driven by the need for close collaboration between NanoMuscle and its clients who are manufacturing in southern China.