Chinese networking giant Huawei revealed today that it plans to open a UK research and development (R&D) centre in Bristol later this year.
The facility will initially employ 30 people and focus on researching ICT chips, software, and analog chip technology for the future.
Huawei did not specify why it had chosen to open the R&D centre in Bristol as opposed to a more well-established technology hub like Cambridge, London and Reading.
The new UK R&D centre was first revealed last October while chancellor George Osborne was visiting the company's 200,000m2 headquarters in Shenzhen, south-east China. Huawei initially said the centre was going to be backed with $200 million (£125 million) but it now says it will only reveal some of this money, with the rest going to the company's other R&D facilities in the UK.
It is part of a £1.2 billion investment being made by the 26-year-old company in the UK between now and 2017.
Huawei said it wants to employ 140 R&D staff across all of its UK sites by the end of the year, increasing this to 300 by 2017. Indeed, the company, founded in 1987 by ex-military officer Ren Zhengfei, already has an R&D centre in Ipswich, Suffolk, that focuses on optoelectronics and employs 80 staff.
Guo Ping, Huawei rotating and acting CEO, will speak alongside science minister David Willetts in Whitehall later today about Huawei’s UK innovation programme.
Ahead of the event, Ping said: "The UK is forward-thinking, progressive, and fosters innovation. This creativity is a major asset to our R&D efforts and gives us the perfect platform to continue pioneering the new, ground-breaking technologies that are building the future.
“We are committed to working with our customers and partners in the UK to leverage our global presence and customer-centric approach to innovation, bringing value to the UK ICT industry and helping its products and technologies go global."
Welcoming the news, Chancellor George Osborne said: “The decision of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker to innovate in Britain is testament to the outstanding quality of our highly skilled workforce and further evidence that our long term economic plan is working.”
Huawei opened its first UK office in 2001. Today it has 15 offices across the UK and 900 employees - including a UK headquarters in Reading that opened last April.
The company has struggled to sell its products in countries such as the US and Australia due to fears that it builds backdoors into its telecoms equipment that could be used by the Chinese government to spy on western nations. However, Huawei has consistently denied the allegations.
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