Huawei pledges £10m to support UK universities while US relations fray

Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei has pledged £10m to support technology research in British universities, as part of its previously announced £1.3bn investment in the nation.

The investment will see the vendor collaborate with major British universities focused on advanced multimedia, IT and optical, green radio, wireless and 5G technologies.

Huawei expects that the research programmes will help it  significantly increase its own understanding of cutting-edge technologies and thereby improve the consumer, network and enterprise services it offers.

“This investment is a vote of confidence in UK universities and their world-leading science and technology skills,” commented David Willetts MP, minister for universities and science, following a visit to Huawei’s Shanghai R&D centre. “We want to encourage greater links between innovative businesses and our research-focused universities. Attracting global companies, like Huawei, shows we are realising these ambitions.”

Victor Zhang, chief executive of Huawei UK added that these research projects will ensure the UK is at the forefront of developments in wireless, multimedia and advanced communications.

“As a global leader in the technology industry, we believe we have a responsibility to nurture the next generation of talent. The research partnerships we’re announcing today with British universities are a sign of that commitment, and we passionately believe that greater collaboration across cultures fosters a unique learning environment and a truly global workforce that benefits everyone.”

Huawei pledged its $2bn investment to the UK in September last year, adding that it would invest £650m in ten global centres of technical and financial excellence. It will also double its procurement over the next five years, by committing to buy £650m on products and services in the country. In October, the vendor confirmed plans to open a research and development centre in the UK.

Last month, the vendor opened a “Global Finance Centre of Excellence” in London to manage its global finance risks and efficiency. It also pledged to invest a minimum of $600m in research and innovation in 5G technologies by 2018.

But while relationships with the UK are blossoming, the company’s fraying relationship with the US has reached breaking point. Reports are coming in that Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei has publicly stated that the firm is abandoning the US market. If the reports are correct, the moves comes after years of tension following US government allegations that Huawei may be implementing spyware into its equipment on behalf of the Chinese military, which has resulted in the firm being effectively banned from participating in major network contract bids.


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