Edinburgh University defends liks with under-fire tech giant Huawei

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BOSSES at Edinburgh University have defended links with under-fire tech giant Huawei after it emerged the Chinese company was among the top corporate donors to the institution last year.

The University received almost £3 million in funding to set up a joint information and technology lab with the firm in June 2017 and laid on a guest lecture from a senior advisor to the company in October on “employee empowerment and management systems” as part of the deal.

It comes as MPs on the foreign affairs select committee urged British universities to exercise “extreme caution” in accepting money from Huawei amid growing international concern about the security threat posed by the Chinese 
telecommunications firm. The university inked a three-year partnership with the company to develop a data lab aimed at “jointly exploring new theories and technologies in data management and provide direction for cutting-edge research into the next generation of information technology” at the school of informatics last year.

But the agreement has come under scrutiny after Huawei’s finance director Meng Wanzhou was detained at an airport in Canada as part of a wide-ranging probe into financial fraud.

Huawei were the largest overseas corporate source of funding for the University last year, injecting £2,831,537 to the institution, according to figures published in an annual review.

Only the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made a larger single financial award to the University during that time.

Earlier this month, BT confirmed it would remove Huawei equipment from its 4G network over security 
concerns, while Andrus Ansip, the EU’s technology commissioner warned the European Union “should be worried” about the firm’s influence in the sector.

However, the University defended the agreement, stating any collaboration approved by the institution was subject to a “rigorous process of due diligence”.

In October, the University hosted Tian Tao, a former senior adviser to the tech giant, for a guest lecture exploring the strategies behind Huawei’s rapid growth.

A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh said: “The University partners with many leading global institutions in the field of data science. Our partnership with Huawei will enable our researchers to explore new technologies in data management and information technology. It has undergone a rigorous process of due diligence and is the result of long-term collaboration between experts at the University and Huawei.”