Huawei continues innovation efforts, despite growing global security backlash

Amidst all the controversy, the Chinese telecoms giant is showing no signs of slowing down.

40 miles north of Shenzhen and nestled in 300 acres, Huawei's new 1.45 million square meter Research and Development campus is truly a sight to behold. One short train ride and you can find yourself in Paris, Bologna, the medieval village of Freiburg, Cesky Krumlov (a town in the Czech Republic), Verona, Heidelberg or Burgundy. Still to come, Oxford, Windermere, Bruges, Grenada and the ‘fairy-tale village' of Luxemburg.

The Ox-Horn campus is set to house 25,000 staff when it becomes fully operational, all tasked with furthering Huawei's future R&D efforts.

Research and development are subjects close to the Chinese telecom giant's heart. At a briefing earlier in the year, president of marketing for Huawei's carrier group, Peng Song spoke about the company's desire to drive innovation in all corners of the globe. Last year, Huawei spent $11.3 billion, 15% of its annual revenue, on R&D - the fifth largest sum in the world and more than the combined total of all other telecommunications companies.

According to Song, 10% of that goes on basic research, 20% on engineering and 30% on developing talent.

"Innovation exists in every corner of the globe," he proclaimed. "But it must be driven by both technology and the needs of the customer."

However, innovation is not just the preserve of those who find themselves working in an office shaped like a European castle. A tour of a Huawei factory in Shenzhen, where a new Huawei P20 rolls off the production line every 28.5 seconds, revealed that even those on the factory floor are tasked with modernising the company.

Six years ago, each production line was overseen by 86 employees. Today that number is down to 17. While this might seem like every scare-mongering story about automation coming true, Huawei claims to offer incentives for employees who come up with ways of improving automation throughout the manufacturing process.

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