Huawei gets green light for £1bn research facility

Huawei has received approval to build a £1 billion research facility in Cambridge.

The Chinese telecoms giant acquired 500 acres of land in Cambridge’s ‘Silicon Fen’ in 2018 and submitted plans to build an optoelectronics research and development manufacturing centre, which were yesterday approved by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The decision has prompted backlash from policymakers, including the US government, which warned the UK against allowing “untrusted companies like Huawei” access to sensitive data.

The Chinese company has been at the centre of a growing national security row after the government approved proposals to allow Huawei to provide technology to non-core elements of the UK’s 5G infrastructure. Critics, including US president Donald Trump, have raised concerns that the company could provide a back-door to surveillance by Chinese intelligence agencies.

Huawei has repeatedly denied accusations that it shares data and information with the Chinese government.

Huawei has pledged to invest £1 billion in the first stage of the project, which includes construction of 50,000 square meters of facilities across nine acres of land.

This phase of the project will focus on the research, development and manufacturing of optical devices and modules. Optoelectronics is a technology used in fibre optic communication systems and this investment aims to bring the best of such technology to data centres and network infrastructure around the world.

The facility is scheduled to create around 400 local jobs.

Once fully operational, the centre will become the international headquarters of Huawei's optoelectronics business.

Victor Zhang, vice president of Huawei, said: "The UK is home to a vibrant and open market, as well as some of the best talent the world has to offer - it's the perfect location 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 broader Industrial Strategy."

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