Target Corp. wants innovation to be a bigger part of its corporate DNA, so it's opening an office right in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The Minneapolis-based retailer quietly unveiled a new tech hub in Sunnyvale this week, its second major outpost in California. In 2012, it also opened its Technology Innovation Center in downtown San Francisco.

The latter, which has about 20 employees, is more focused on testing and exploring new technologies with start-ups. But the Sunnyvale office will be more geared toward data analytics and engineering for its online and mobile teams, said Eddie Baeb, a Target spokesman.

"This is really about being in a location that is close to and makes it easy for the talent we want to work with to be at Target," he said.

While it's only an hour away from the San Francisco office, he said the new location is more convenient for people who prefer to live in San Jose instead of San Francisco and who would rather work in the heart of the Valley.

The 7,000-square-foot Sunnyvale office will initially have about 15 employees, but could one day have upward of 70, Baeb said.

The new space, which held a small open house on Monday night, will also provide a home base for Target executives from Minneapolis when they fly out to California to meet with technology partners.

Other retailers have also been staking out ground in the Valley as they look to reinvent themselves for the digital age. Wal-Mart, for example, has its e-commerce headquarters in San Bruno, Calif.

The recent hires at Target's Sunnyvale office are on top of the hiring bonanza of about 50 software engineers to work for and its mobile product teams that the retailer announced earlier this year. Most of those new hires will be based in Minneapolis.

In May, Target also announced a new digital advisory council to help the company innovate faster. Target has developed a reputation of being behind the curve when it comes to its online operations. It has been racing to catch up since taking over in 2011 after a decade of having Amazon run its site.

Target also recently named three new senior-level executives from outside the company to fill roles in the digital and technology space.

It has begun testing same-day delivery in select markets, including Minneapolis, and unveiled a new image-recognition app in July that allows customers to scan pictures and directly purchase items in magazines and printed ads.

Last week, Target named Brian Cornell, a former PepsiCo and Sam's Club executive, to be its next CEO. He takes over the helm Aug. 12.

Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113