R&D center proposed by Huawei in Cambridge, England.
A new Huawei research and development center has been approved by a local council in the UK, despite continued nationwide security concerns surrounding the Chinese company.
The Cambridgeshire South District Council approved the first phase of construction of Huawei’s planned R&D center, which the company intends to use to build next-generation chips. Huawei said it will invest £ 1 billion in the first phase of development.
The investment in the 50,000-square-foot facility comes when Britain evaluates whether or not Huawei’s telecommunications equipment should be used on the nation’s networks.
Last month, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center launched an emergency review on the matter. The review was announced just days after the US introduced new export controls at Huawei designed to restrict the company’s access to chips made from American equipment.
The matter escalated further this week when the Trump administration claimed that 20 leading Chinese firms, including Huawei, are owned or controlled by the Chinese military. The list paves the way for new United States financial sanctions against companies.
Earlier this month, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the BBC, “There is no doubt that Huawei has embarked on some practices that are not acceptable in national security.”
The firm has repeatedly denied allegations that it passes data to Beijing and insists that it is independent from the government.
Huawei expects to employ 300 to 400 people at the 500-acre site in Sawston, seven miles from downtown Cambridge.
Once fully operational, it will become the international headquarters for Huawei’s optoelectronics business. Optoelectronics is a technology used in fiber optic communication systems found in data centers and network infrastructure.
The R&D center was approved despite concerns about bike lanes, water consumption, environmental damage, and employees who are not near the site. Nine councilors voted in favor of development, and one voted against.
Nicknamed “Silicon Fen”, Cambridge is one of the UK’s leading technology hubs, with companies like Amazon, Microsoft and ARM in the area.
“The UK is home to a vibrant and open market as well as some of the best talent the world has to offer,” said Victor Zhang, vice president of Huawei, in a press release.
“It is the perfect place for this integrated innovation campus. Through close collaboration with research institutes, universities, and local industry, we want to advance optical communications technology for the industry as a whole, while doing our part to support the UK’s broadest industrial strategy. ” Ultimately, we want to help enshrine the UK’s leading position in optoelectronics and promote UK technology on a global scale. “
Huawei’s workforce in the UK has grown to 1,600 people since it began operating in the country some 20 years ago.