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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
25 June, 2020 - 16:34 By Tony Quested

Huawei commits £1bn to first phase of Cambridge optoelectronics nervecentre

Huawei has won planning consent for the first phase of a new optoelectronics R & D and manufacturing centre in Cambridge.

It will invest £1 billion in the first phase of the project which includes construction of 50,000 square meters of facilities across nine acres of land and will directly create around 400 local jobs.

Once fully operational, it will become the international headquarters of Huawei's optoelectronics business. The investment is a major boost for the continued growth of Cambridge as a world-leading technology hub.

The first phase of the project will focus on the research, development, and manufacturing of optical devices and modules – an integrated model that promises to bring innovation faster to market. 

Optoelectronics is a key 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.

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. Ultimately, we want to help enshrine the UK's leading position in optoelectronics and promote UK technology on a global scale."

Today's approval follows over three years of work and planning. Huawei began the search for the ideal location back in 2017 and completed the acquisition of the 500-acre South Cambridgeshire site in 2018.

The company began its planning application process in early 2019. The site is located at the former Spicers paper mill and production facility located to the west of Sawston. The site includes over 50 acres of brownfield land.

Huawei employs 1,600 people in the UK and this year marks the company's 20th year of operating in this market. Huawei supplies telecoms network equipment to all the major mobile and broadband service providers in the UK, as well as offering a range of world leading smartphones to UK consumers.

This is a remarkable coup for Cambridge considering that the UK government is considering reneging on a promise to let Huawei have a slice of the 5G implementation.

The Government OK’d Huawei’s involvement in creating the new 5G infrastructure despite opposition from the White House. Now it is threatening to renege on the undertaking after a revolt in its own ranks and renewed pressure from America.

The US fears Huawei links to the Chinese government could lead to security breaches – an accusation the company has consistently and vehemently denied.

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