Huawei set to continue major R&D spending spree

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(Image credit: Huawei)

Huawei has indicated it has no plans to slow down its R&D spending as it looks to continue as a world leader in 5G and other technologies, and also reaffirmed its desire to keep investing in the UK.

Speaking at the company’s MWC 2019 pre-brief event in London today, executives revealed that Huawei is investing a significant portion of its own wealth into making sure it comes up with future breakthroughs.

According to Peng Song, president of marketing for Huawei’s carrier group, the Chinese giant ploughed, "no less than" 15 percent of its total annual revenue into research and development.

This equated to around €11bn in 2018, which according to the European Commission, was the fifth largest R&D spend in the world, and more than all other telecom vendors put together.

Huawei research

Peng added that Huawei employs over 80,000 dedicated R&D engineers, and registered over 87,000 patents last year as it looks to expand its expertise even further.

This spending is only set to increase as Huawei’s successes continue, with another senior Huawei executive confirming no slow-down in R&D spend.

“I believe the R&D investment will continue to rise this year,” Ryan Ding, executive chairman of the board and president of Huawei’s carrier group, told TechRadar Pro in a media roundtable at the event.

Ding noted that Huawei is always looking to focus its investment on areas it knows it can do well in, specifically around the two main focus areas of connectivity and computing, meaning that it has the rare position of being able to pick and choose its fields of interest.

“In the last few years, for the products that have not been a big presence, or we don't believe that we won't be able to be in the top one or top two for that product, we reduce our investment and even have left certain products lines,” he said.

Instead, Huawei has sunk resources into key areas such as FWA and wireless/core network technology, investment in which has crept up over the past few years to make it an industry leader.

This is a position the company hopes it can continue into 5G, with Huawei already working with operators around the world to prepare for the launch of the new high-speed networks next year.

"In 5G, we are not only the first to invest in 5G, but we have the biggest investment,” Ding stated. 

“That's the reason why we can continue our leadership...without our best products or best services, we cannot continue to get great success in the market.”

Huawei UK

Elsewhere, Huawei has also restated its support for the UK as a key area for investment and future growth in the company’s activities.

Speaking to the BBC, Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei said: “We will continue to invest in the UK. We still trust in the UK. If the US doesn’t trust us, then we will shift our investment from the US to the UK on an even bigger scale.”

Huawei has had a presence in the UK for 18 years, and now employs around 1,500 workers directly. 

Up to the end of 2017, the company had invested and procured £2 billion in the UK, and now says it plans to spend another £3 billion with British suppliers over the next five years.