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Huawei opens AU$30m Sydney innovation centre

Huawei is planning to use its new innovation centre to train students on its latest technology, as well as to provide a space for customers and partners to develop new tech.

Chinese technology giant Huawei has launched its AU$30 million National Training and Innovation Centre in Sydney. The centre is aimed at providing a space in which to educate its customers and partners, as well as local students and staff members, on using the most recent IT equipment, and a base for technological innovation and development to take place.

The centre combines a research and educational space, as well as a room kitted out with Huawei's own extensive datacentre-in-a-box offering, which provides racks, casing, equipment, and even cooling as a single solution developed and manufactured by Huawei.

The company claimed that its innovation centre has "enough technology ... to power the telecom needs of the whole of New South Wales".

"Huawei Australia has trained over 3,000 people in the last five years; the National Training and Innovation Centre will help us continue our effort in talent development and innovation in Australia," current Huawei CEO Ken Hu said at the launch on Wednesday afternoon.

"With the capacity to train over 2,000 people each year, the new centre is equipped with the latest technology, including wireless, fixed technology, as well as unified communication solutions."

The Chinese company has committed to providing funding for 100 university and TAFE students to be trained, with Hu noting that Huawei Australia has already worked with several universities in the state, including the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney, and the University of New South Wales.

"We have trained 38 Australian students in the past three years," the global rotating CEO added.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird welcomed the opening of the centre, as well as the company's commitment to provide funding for the next generation of IT professionals.

"AU$30 million is a very significant amount that is being invested, and not just in opportunities for employees, but through the partnerships and future leaders of IT companies across the world," Baird said.

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Huawei CEO Ken Hu and NSW Premier Mike Baird open the Huawei innovation centre. (Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

"The fantastic commitment to research and development across this company ... that's going to provide many opportunities, not just here in Australia, but across the world, and that innovation I think is a critical part, and that's something we are certainly committed to doing here in NSW.

"We continue to welcome and develop our relationship with China -- it's such an important part of our international relationships," Baird added.

Huawei said it spent more than $6.6 billion on research and development in 2014, with more than $30 billion spent on R&D over the last 10 years.

"Innovation has become part of our DNA. That's why we invest at least 10 percent of our revenue each year in R&D since its founding in 1987. Just like capital and technology, talent is a key success factor for innovation," Hu said.

In June, Huawei announced that it had also begun incorporating 4.5G and 5G into its small cell products, such as Micro, Pico, LampSite, and Book RRU.

"Rapidly growing MBB [mobile broadband] networks are currently made possible at the cost of deploying a large number of small cells to densify cellular networks, creating serious inter-cell interference," Huawei's acting CEO Eric Xu said in July.

"Huawei has applied 5G technology to small cells, transforming cellular interference into channels for data exchange. This innovative solution makes it possible to significantly improve air interface efficiency, without the need to add hardware to existing networks and enabling operators to build subscriber-oriented networks."

Huawei's financial results for the first half of 2015 revealed that it had generated revenue of 175.9 billion yuan ($28.3 billion) -- a year-on-year increase of 30 percent, with operating margins of 18 percent.

The company said all three of its business units -- enterprise, consumer, and carrier -- experienced growth in the six months until June.

"Huawei's mid-range and high-end smartphones ... have made solid progress, helping us guarantee quality and sustainable growth in the consumer business," Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou said.

"Thanks to the extensive application of our cloud computing, storage, agile network and other flagship products and solutions in the smart city, finance, education, and ISP markets in and outside of China; our growth in the enterprise business began to pick up in the first half of this year."

Huawei was also recently tipped to be China's first handset manufacturer to ship 10 million smartphones in a single year. Last year, Huawei shipped 138 million devices, including 75 million smartphones; a 7.8 percent increase over its 2013 results.

The next Google Nexus handset is expected to come from Huawei.

Australia's incumbent telco Telstra also opened an innovation centre this month. Its Gurrowa Innovation Lab provides a co-creation space for the telco and its associated enterprise customers, vendors, research institutes, and incubators to collaborate on technological projects such as geolocation, robotics, and the Internet of Things via the Pivotal and Cloud Foundry Foundation-provided open-source platform-as-a-service cloud software.

"It is enormously important that as an economy we are globally competitive, and that in industry after industry -- many of them not traditionally thought of as technology industries -- that we are using technology to be efficient and competitive. We talk of IT as an enabler, and that has never been more important than it is today," Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said at Telstra's launch.