The optical networking research unit is currently owned by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), but is being sold as part of a larger rationalisation of assets.
Huawei said CIP will “significantly deepen” its optical research and development capabilities. The CIP research team will be retained and will form the core of a new Huawei UK R&D centre, part of Huawei’s global network.
This acquisition is much more significant than that of a 10% ownership of Thames Water by a Chinese sovereign fund. It will enable Huawei to tap into British brainpower. Given China’s meed to diversify its surplus from the US$ and other static holdings into tangible assets, this will not be the first such acquisition.
However, there is no need for alarm. Years ago Microsoft set up a research facility in Cambridge and HP set one up in the Thames valley. Even long before then, IBM set up research labs in Switzerland, Britain and France. This all plays to one of the three strands of global power shift that Paddy Ashdown talked about in his talk at TED.com – http://blog.ted.com/2012/01/05/the-global-power-shift-paddy-ashdown-on-ted-com/. From national states to global corporations.