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Huawei to build R&D centre in Nokia’s back yard

Finland facility will focus on Android AND Windows Phone 8 UIs

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Shenzhen-based telecoms giant Huawei has revealed plans to double its European workforce and set up a new R&D centre in Nokia’s backyard of Finland, in a clear sign of the growing global footprint of Chinese smartphone vendors.

The firm confirmed to The Reg it will increase staff numbers from 7,000 to around 14,000 in the next three to five years and build its eleventh R&D base in Europe somewhere in Finland.

Huawei's European expansion is in stark contrast to once-dominant Nokia's decline, as the company has struggled to make an impact with its Windows Phone devices and is even sliding now in the overall mobile market.

The firm has shed thousands of jobs and even revealed plans recently to sell its global HQ in Espoo to raise cash.

Perhaps more telling is that the new Huawei R&D centre in Finland will be focused on developing and optimising UIs not only for Android but also Windows Phone 8 devices, which should raise some more alarm bells over at Nokia HQ.

Huawei spokesman Roland Sladek said Finland had been chosen because of its “long-reaching track record of mobile technology R&D to tap into”, although the ready availability of some recently ejected Nokia staff may have helped too.

Given recent set-backs in the US, where a high profile House of Representatives report branded it and ZTE a national security risk, it makes sense for Huawei to plough on with European investment.

It already pledged a massive £1.2bn to the UK back in September and has plans for another R&D centre in Spain.

“This is one part of our stepping up of investment in innovation in Europe because it’s an open market for technology companies like us,” Sladek said. ®

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