Huawei chairman Guo Ping announced in a press briefing in Shenzhen, China that over the next three years, Huawei will invest €70 million in research and development (R&D) in the Republic of Ireland, including continuing its partnerships with Trinity.
Huawei currently employs approximately 180 people across Dublin, Cork and Athlone. Of those employees, approximately 100 are focused on R&D. In a statement made to the Irish Times, Mr. Ping said: “Ireland is a very open country and has a very sound environment for investment as well as outstanding talent”. According to the Irish Times, the €70 million investment will be focused on cloud computing, artificial intelligence and site-reliability engineering.
Last month Huawei funded 10 students from third-level education, including a Trinity student to visit China as part of ‘Seeds for the Future’, Huawei’s STEM education initiative.
In 2017, Huawei first partnered with Trinity as part of a €17.7 million investment. In a statement made to the Irish Times, Huawei Ireland chief executive Jijay Shen asserted that Huawei has invested €35 million in Ireland over the course of the last three years.
At the time, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD spoke positively about the partnership, stating: “Huawei’s continued investment in Ireland illustrates the innovative technology ecosystem we have developed, with more and more major international tech firms basing and growing their operations here. The company’s new research partnership with Trinity and its expanding R&D footprint across its Dublin, Cork and Athlone operations are a strong endorsement of Ireland’s tech credentials and illustrates Huawei’s ongoing commitment to its Irish operations. Bilateral trade between Ireland and China is now worth over €12 billion each year, and by strengthening our links with companies like Huawei we can increase this further in the years ahead.”
Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr. Patrick Prendergast, also spoke highly of the partnership, stating: “I am extremely pleased to announce this joint research collaboration with Huawei. As a research intensive university, Trinity is a key driver of research and innovation collaborations with industry. Our world class academics and researchers are collaborating with Huawei in this critical digital area. Our advances in technology and artificial intelligence are set to revolutionise the world we live in, and our joint efforts with Huawei in this innovative space will endeavour to strive for new breakthroughs in a rapidly emerging area that is to have a far-reaching impact on society into the future. ”
Despite positive reactions from prominent Irish leadership, in April 2019, emails obtained under a freedom of information request exposed concern from some staff within College regarding the partnership between Trinity and Huawei. The concerned parties wanted the government’s advice on Trinity’s involvement with Huawei after the company was removed from the 4G network in Britain by the British telecommunications company, BT.
Over the first few months of 2019, a number of universities around the world began severing ties that they had formed with Huawei through research investments due to concerns from national intelligence agencies regarding the ease with which the Chinese government could utilize Huawi’s technology for espionage. Notable universities that cut ties with Huawei due to concerns over espionage include The University of Oxford, Princeton, Stanford, and U.C. Berkley. The Irish government called for an assessment of Huawei’s technology to see if it threatened Irish national security, while the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have banned Huawei technology in some of their networks.