MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – Established over a decade before the latest influx of automotive companies looking to forge ties with California’s high-tech industry, Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab here showcases not only designs born from collaboration between the two, but also the collaborative process itself.

The Mountain View research and development center relocated earlier this year to a new and more expansive 35,000-sq.-ft. (3,250-sq.-m) site. It has evolved under the notion that, when it comes to automotive connectivity, “the car industry is not necesssarily the leader,” whereas the high-tech field “obviously is,” Nick Sugimoto, senior program director, tells WardsAuto during an interview.

The facility has become “a catalyst to promote the chemical reaction between Silicon Valley and Honda engineers,” he adds.

The task of bringing the two industries together hasn’t been seamless, Sugimoto explains, because of the widely different ways each approaches R&D.

Whereas auto industry R&D follows an average 5-year cycle of incremental advances and testing before a product is deemed ready for market, in Silicon Valley “their typical cycle is six months (to) launch new versions, not necessarily new products, but new versions every three to six months.

“Car R&D is more structured and disciplined. Silicon Valley is ‘Just do it and try and see how it goes and improve,” Sugimoto says. “Two different cultures, totally different worlds.”

During the early days of the Silicon Valley Lab, many at Honda were caught off-guard by how those in high tech tend to view the automobile itself.

Those on the auto side see smartphones as accessories to the car, but in Silicon Valley “they regard the car as an accessory, one of many devices connected to the smartphone,” Sugimoto says. “That was actually our biggest cultural gap.”