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07 July 2017
| James Pearce
As operators look at how to drive innovation in a shrinking market, Huawei rotating CEO Ken Hu told an Innovation Day they should look to each other
Innovation is driven by partnerships, with cooperation
between companies cultivating digital invention and driving
investment into new technologies.
This was the view expressed by Huawei’s
rotating CEO Ken Hu as he took to the stage at the Chinese
vendor’s European Innovation Day, pledging to
continue investing in Europe.
Hu outlined continuing partnerships with a number of
operators as a key component of Huawei’s
continuing success in Europe, but said it needs to support
digital transformation initiatives by tackling skill shortages
that could hinder innovation.Hu said: "In this time we have
grown together and forged lasting partnerships. We are in
Europe for Europe, working hard to create value for our
customers and help the region go digital. As Europe goes
digital, our contribution takes several different forms.
"The first is providing competitive technology and products
that are the result of our long-term investment in basic
research. The second is working closely with partners all
across the industry landscape to develop targeted solutions for
European customers. And our third contribution is promoting an
open digital ecosystem."
Huawei has 18 research and development centres across eight
European countries. The Chinese firm is also throwing its
wallet at R&D in the region. Take the UK. Huawei has
committed to invest £1.3 billion in the UK alone.
The Global OpenLabs programme was announced in March this
year. It is the means by which Huawei can facilitate joint
innovation and solution launches with local partners across a
number of sectors such as smart city, finance, transportation,
energy, manufacturing and media.
There are already five OpenLabs in existence, and Huawei
announced that it is to open a new OpenLab in London this year,
and is looking for a location in which to site it. A total of
12 labs are earmarked for opening around the world this
During the fifth annual European Innovation Day, Huawei
announced a new partnership, with the University of Edinburgh,
which will see the two form a data processing and management
technology lab. Edinburgh is the seventh university to sign up
as a Huawei partner.
"The University of Edinburgh is delighted to partner with
Huawei to perform further research into data science and data
management," said Timothy O’Shea, University of
Edinburgh principal. "The creation of this laboratory gives our
researchers the opportunity to apply their expertise to
large-scale, real world challenges in this very exciting
Hu, one of three CEOs who take it in turns to lead Huawei,
six months at a time, added: "Huawei is a long-term advocate of
open innovation. We work with over 100 leading universities
around the world, and the joint lab we are launching with the
University of Edinburgh will go a long way in helping the ICT
industry further its research into data science and enable
digital transform-ation. The links between industrial and
academic communities are strong here, so Europe is an excellent
place for collaboration between business and academia."
The problem with European broadband is the amount of
investment required. To meet its connectivity goals for 2025,
the EU needs a total investment of €500 billion, but there
is still a shortfall of €155 billion.
"Europe has a strong industrial base, and speeding up the
digital transformation process will be vital to its economic
growth. It will also help set a benchmark for the rest of the
world," Hu said.
In his third recommendation, he challenged European
regulators to create more favourable policy to enable operators
and carriers to close the connectivity divide with Asia and the
In Japan and Korea, more than 90% of people have access to
broadband speeds of 30Mbps, but in Europe, the figure is just
76%, according to Hu. This falls as low as 40% in rural areas,
while 14% of the European population have never used the
internet before and 44% just have basic access. Hu said: "We
have to figure out how to bridge the gap as soon as possible,
or Europe risks falling further behind. The future broadband
network should be able to meet the requirements for those
consumer applications such as live video, VR and AR. So we need
to provide much faster internet speeds – 10Gbps, or
100 times faster, with lower latency – 50 times more
"This will take a combination of 5G, all-optical networks
and the internet of things. We believe better policy will help
encourage more investment and that will take change in