Chinese networking giant Huawei has donated £10 million to UK universities to help fund telecommunications research and deepen the firm’s understanding of emerging technologies.

The £10 million - to be divided across six universities including the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton - will go towards research in areas such as advanced multimedia, IT and optical technology, green radio, 5G technologies, optical technology, wireless communications and product engineering.

The money is part of Huawei's £1.2 billion investment into the UK, which will occur over the next five years and was announced in OctoberThe funding for these university schemes has been made available through Huawei’s Innovation Research Programme, which involves forging partnerships with global educational institutions.

The Shenzhen-headquartered company hopes the findings of the research will go someway towards improving its own products, which are used by telecoms companies in Britain such as BT and Manx Telecom.

Huawei UK CEO Victor Zhang said: "As the global technology economy continues to grow, new innovation is fundamental, and these research projects will ensure the UK is at the forefront of developments in wireless, multimedia and advanced communications."

The investment has been well received by the UK government with MP David Willetts, minister for universities and science – and Huawei’s number one government contact – welcoming the news following a visit to Huawei’s Shanghai R&D centre yesterday.  

"This investment is a vote of confidence in UK universities and their world-leading science and technology skills,” he said. “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."

Huawei was keen to point out that it invests over 10 percent of its annual revenue into R&D and that last year this equated to $4.8 billion (£2.93 billion).

"As a global leader in the technology industry, we believe we have a responsibility to nurture the next generation of talent,” added Zhang. “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.”

The news comes as US senators raise concerns around a deal between Huawei and South Korea that will see the country's broadband network developed on Huawei's equipment.

There have long been concerns in Washington over Huawei's association with the Chinese government and military that Huawei has consistently denied. 

Senators Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Dianne Feinstein of California wrote a letter to the Obama administration last week raising concerns over the impact of such a deal on US security. 

Various media reports cited them as saying in the letter that the choice of Huawei to "develop and/or supply the Republic of Korea's advanced LTE telecommunications backbone raise[s] serious questions and potential security concerns".

"As you know, the US-Republic of Korea [South Korea] alliance is a cornerstone for US strategic engagement in Asia, and has served as a bulwark against North Korean aggression for the past six decades.

"Maintaining the integrity of telecommunications infrastructure is critical to the operational effectiveness of this important security alliance," they added.