Spain is set to receive a shiny new facility for the development of next-gen transport, with Richard Branson's Virgin Hyperloop One reaching an agreement with local authorities to open a research center in the region of Andalusia, in the country's south.

The agreement was signed by the company's CEO Rob Lloyd and the head of Andalusia infrastructure agency, and will see a new US$500 million development center built in the village of Bobadilla.

Virgin Hyperloop One hopes to tap into the existing talent pool in the Andalusia region, which it says is home to 9,000 transport and logistics companies and 20,000 employees in R&D, along with a large aerospace community. It plans to hire between 200 and 300 professionals for its new facility.

The center will span 19,000 sq m (200,000 sq ft) and will be used to develop and test various components of hyperloop systems, which seek to shuttle passenger and cargo capsules through near-vacuum tubes at close to the speed of sound.

"The location of the center in our country will lead to important high-value commercial opportunities and will boost economic growth in the region," said the railway authority, Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias, in a statement. "The agreement with Virgin Hyperloop One will help us to deepen the willingness to face new technological challenges, contributing to reinforce our leadership in the development of transport infrastructures in the international arena."

It will join other hyperloop research centers in Europe, one from Holland's Delft University of Technology and another from rival Hyperloop Transportation Technologies in France, both of which involve sections of test track. Virgin Hyperloop One has previously explored the possibilities of a hyperloop system in Europe, even proposing nine potential routes. This, however, will be its first dedicated research center.

"For hyperloop to be commercially viable it needs to be safe and reliable – safety is our number-one priority," says Josh Giegel, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Virgin Hyperloop One. "We've already been testing and improving our technology for the last four years, including building the only full-scale hyperloop system in the world. Ultimately, the center will help us deliver upon our first projects and scale to meet future demand around the world."

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