Salesforce finally solidifies European data center plans crm) will set up its first European data center in the UK next year, the enterprise software-as-a-service firm said on Thursday.

The company has come under criticism for not having a European data center in the past, largely due to compliance issues – Salesforce is part of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor framework, which means it’s allowed to handle European citizens’ personal data, but many customers would prefer the certainty that a locally sited data center allows. (We will be discussing such issues at our Structure:Europe conference in London on 18-19 September, by the way.)

Salesforce said last year that it hoped to open a data center in the UK in 2013, but this appears to have been pushed back a little now. According to a statement today, the new data center – the firm’s sixth — will be completed in 2014 in partnership with NTT Communications’ local arm, NTT Europe.

In a statement, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said Europe had provided the greatest revenue growth – 38 percent — for the company in the 2013 fiscal year:

“We are doubling down on Europe with the announcement of our new data centre in the UK, which will support continued customer success in EMEA.”

Robin Balen, NTT Europe’s wholesale data center business chief, added that the new facility would be “powered 100 percent by renewable energy sources.”

Innovation Challenge

Meanwhile, Salesforce has also teamed up with a group of European venture capital firms – Notion capital, Octopus Investment and MMC Ventures – to launch a €5 million ($6.6 million) Innovation Challenge for startups.

Startups are invited to pitch their enterprise cloud apps that could run (surprise!) on Salesforce’s platform. There will be pitching events through Europe between September and November, and the winners will get seed funding. Apps will need to be at least in the beta stage, with demonstrable “traction, customer success and user adoption.”

“This is a unique opportunity for innovative start-ups in the enterprise app market here in Europe to receive commercial support to allow them to compete on a global stage,” Octopus principal Luke Hakes said in a statement.