Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is tapping Russia's vast pool of tech talent, as it seeks to harness the Internet's explosion of online data.

The company announced plans to open a research facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday to pursue "advanced information management technologies."

The facility will be the sixth international outpost of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based H-P Labs, and the third research facility established abroad in the past five years. H-P Labs expanded into Bangalore, India, in 2002, and opened a facility in Beijing, China, in 2005.

"A globally distributed R&D network allows H-P to access research talent anywhere and collaborate around the world to create new technologies for our customers," said Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Shane Robison in a statement.

According to H-P, the Russian lab will develop new methods for sifting through the flood of digital data on the Web and in other sources -- which the company said has been estimated to be growing at a clip of 50% a year.

Staffers with backgrounds in computer science, information theory and statistics will "create technologies aimed at finding useful information in massive amounts of structured and unstructured data" with capabilities that go beyond current data mining tools, H-P said.

The focus on data analysis, which sounds a little like the type of search-engine work usually associated with firms like Google ( GOOG), comes as H-P ties its future to layering innovative software applications onto the millions of industry-standard PCs, servers and handhelds it ships every year.

The bulk of H-P's R&D efforts now focus on software and services rather than hardware, and the company is bolstering its portfolio of software applications and services with acquisitions like Mercury Interactive and Snapfish, an online site for printing and sharing digital photos.

The company did not say how many people it intends to hire for the St. Petersburg lab or when it expects the facility to open.

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