Huawei to build £400 million R&D facility in the UK

The plans have already been approved, according to reports, with Chinese firm set to create 400 new jobs

Huawei is facing a fresh row over plans to build a £400 million research and development facility in the village of Sawston, near Cambridge. 

A final decision is expected for Thursday, but a report in The Sunday Times suggests the local council has been advised to approve the application in full. 

The area is frequently referred to as "Silicon Fen" due to its cluster of technology firms, including ARM. Huawei's building will reportedly be used for researching and developing chips for use in broadband networks. 

Huawei's chief executive of UK R&D, Henk Koopmans, bought the site in 2019 from old stationer Spicers. The Chinese firm plans to demolish the site and rebuild its new centre which could be operational by 2021 and potentially create 400 jobs. 

"For nearly 20 years, we have supplied the UK's mobile and broadband companies with 3G, 4G and now 5G products," a Huawei spokesperson said. "We are investing in new technology, and an important part of our commitment to the UK is our proposed new R&D centre in Cambridge."

Huawei's involvement in the UK's network infrastructure has been put in jeopardy in recent weeks. Despite granting the firm "limited access" to 5G infrastructure at the start of the year, the UK government has made noises about reversing that decision following sustained pressure from the US and also within the Conservative party.

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre is also reportedly conducting another inquiry into Huawei's equipment. 

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The former secretary of state, Damian Green, suggested Huawei's announced R&D centre was "clearly designed to influence the debate" and called for it to be shut down. 

"The government calls Huawei a high-risk vendor and I want to see a path towards zero involvement from Huawei in the 5G network," he said, according to The Sunday Times

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