Huawei's new £125 million UK research and development (R&D) centre will play a key role in helping the company penetrate UK businesses, the Chinese firm revealed at its headquarter's today.

Huawei said the R&D centre — focused on optoelectronics, device design, software development and internet protocol (IP) technology — has been set up in the UK in order to take advantage of the country's existing large enterprise market. 

"We officially established the Enterprise BG [Business Group] in 2011," said Patrick Zhang, president of marketing and solutions for Huawei Enterprise BG. "We chose a select and limited amount of countries [to operate with] and the UK is one of them because it has a very big enterprise market. " 

"Before we entered the enterprise market we already had a lot of co-operation with UK carriers, like BT, Vodafone and EE," he said at the networking giant's 200,000 square metre campus in Shenzhen, China. 

The UK R&D centre, to be built at a currently unknown location, is part of Huawei's $2 billion (£1.23 billion) investment agreement with the UK. 

The three main areas of Huawei's business are Enterprise, Carrier and Consumer. However, it is the Enterprise business that is growing fastest, with revenues of $1.8 billion (£1.12 billion) and a 25.8 percent year-on-year growth rate last year, compared to 6.7 percent for Huawei's core business in Carrier Networks. Huawei Enterprise sells products for networking, unified communications, cloud computing and data centres.

Huawei boasts 140,000 employees worldwide, with 40,000 of those based in Shenzhen — one of China's Special Economic Zones (SEZs) 

The 25-year-old firm has more than 45 percent of its global workforce in R&D-related positions but in the UK there are currently only 80 people working in R&D at a facility in Ipswich, Suffolk. 

However, Huawei said it is planning to employ a total of 300 staff in high-tech R&D positions in the UK by 2017. 

Last week UK chancellor George Osborne said that Britain is open to investment from Huawei while on a trade mission to China. 

When visiting Huawei's campus to announce the new UK R&D centre, he said: "One of the most exciting opportunities for collaboration between Britain and China in the next step of our relationship is between our cutting edge, high-tech companies. So I am delighted to be visiting Huawei's headquarters with leaders of some of Britain’s most entrepreneurial tech companies to welcome Huawei's investment into the UK."

Huawei vice-president of international media affairs, Joe Kelly, told Techworld that he believes the UK is looking to capitalise on China's booming economy, adding that Osborne was very "charming" on his two-hour visit of the Huawei campus, despite the fact he was clearly in a rush.

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