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Start Campus Forges Ahead with Leadership Update to Propel Sustainable Data Center Development

The privately-backed developer of Portugal's 495MW campus has ratified Rob Dunn as CEO and appointed Luis Rodrigues as COO, as the project gains pace.

By TTC Newsroom

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July 09, 2024 | 9:05 AM BST

Start Campus Forges Ahead with Leadership Update to Propel Sustainable Data Center Development

Start Campus has appointed Robert Dunn as its Chief Executive Officer, while Luis Rodrigues has now assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer. Source: Start Campus

The Tech Capital

Significant leadership appointments have been announced by Start Campus that will help drive the company’s mission of pioneering a new generation of sustainable data center solutions.

Robert Dunn has been confirmed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), while Luis Rodrigues assumes the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO). These appointments underscore Start Campus’ commitment to innovation and excellence in the development of its flagship project, the 495MW SINES DC data center campus on Portugal’s Atlantic coast.

This next-generation data center is engineered to host HPC/AI applications and offer high-efficiency alternatives to traditional data centers. Equally, SINES DC is built to provide maximum optionality for customers with powered shell, turn-key and build-to-suit solutions. The company’s advanced offer addresses the future needs of the industry by integrating liquid cooling technologies into its flexible and scalable design.

Mr Dunn, who has been serving as interim CEO since November 2023, brings a wealth of experience to his new role, having spent over 15 years in senior positions within the data center industry. His leadership has been instrumental in guiding the development of SINES DC, which is on track to become one of Europe’s largest and most sustainable data ecosystems.

I am honoured to lead Start Campus as CEO during this pivotal phase of growth,” said Mr Dunn, who has previously served as Start Campus’ Head of Design and Delivery. “Our mission to establish sustainable data center ecosystems and redefine industry standards remains steadfast. With the imminent completion of the first phase of SINES DC, we are poised to make a significant impact on the industry and the country.”

Mr Rodrigues, appointed as COO, boasts over 15 years of expertise in data center operations and management. Since joining Start Campus as Head of Data Center Operations in 2021, he has played a key role in shaping the operational excellence that defines the company.

Our focus on operational efficiency and client-centric solutions positions us as leaders in the industry,” Mr Rodrigues said. “I look forward to driving continued efficiency across our operations.

The appointments come at a crucial time for Start Campus as it finalises construction and prepares for operations at SIN01, the first building at SINES DC. Further phases will offer five additional buildings, of up to 180MW each.

The project, which builds on Portugal’s unrivaled strategic location as a global connectivity hub, has been designed with adaptability in mind so it can accommodate the latest technologies to deliver efficiency and maximise sustainability. As part of this commitment, SINES DC is home to Start Campus’ novel “Liquid Cooling Lab” where the company, alongside hardware and chipset manufacturers, have the freedom to experiment around new designs and technologies.

With the environmental impact of data centers becoming a growing focus area, Start Campus aims to achieve Net Zero Status by 2030. SINES DC is committed to operating on 100% renewable energy and targeting an industry-leading Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.1 once fully developed.

Water consumption is another area of concern for the sector, and SINES DC sets itself apart with its unique seawater cooling system, designed to use – but not consume – seawater, resulting in a Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) of nearly zero. The site also repurposes existing industrial water infrastructure to minimise its environmental footprint.

Once all stages of SINES DC are complete, the data center is expected to create and support more than 9,000 jobs in Portugal’s fast-growing tech industry. SINES DC’s location south of Lisbon also means it will drive regional prosperity, helping spread across Portugal the economic benefits the new data center will bring.

The announcement of leadership positions marks a significant milestone for the company as it embarks on the next phase of its journey towards shaping the future of sustainable data centers. With Mr Dunn and Mr Rodrigues at the helm, the company is poised to continue driving innovation, excellence and sustainability in the data center industry.

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