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Lero defends €6m Huawei research deal

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Lero’s Professor Brian Fitzgerald

Lero’s Professor Brian Fitzgerald

Lero’s Professor Brian Fitzgerald

The head of Ireland's biggest publicly- funded software research centre says that security concerns "did not arise" in a new €6m partnership deal with Huawei, the telecoms firm under fire from US authorities for being too close to China's government.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald said that Limerick-based Lero, which has received €100m in funding from state-backed agencies including Science Foundation Ireland and from the EU, has been working with Huawei "for years" and that controversy over Huawei's alleged security concerns only cropped up "under current geopolitical affairs" between the US and China.

Lero is entering a four-year partnership with Huawei to allow Irish software researchers work more deeply with the giant.

"It's a fantastic opportunity because Huawei is one of the most innovative companies on the planet," said Professor Fitzgerald.

"They went looking around for the top engineering software centre and that's us,

The move comes after Huawei announced a €70m investment to expand its research and development activities in Ireland over the next three years.

The firm currently employs over 200 people here with another 100 jobs promised.

He said that the four-year deal will result in a number of "leading-edge" research projects on advanced software engineering topics, leading to "dedicated knowledge transfer workshops".

Earlier this month, the company's Irish accounts showed that Huawei believes international controversy is not affecting its business in Ireland.

"At the end of 2018, reported security concerns spread across international media regarding the network technology related to Huawei's 5G technology," the directors of its Irish unit said in the accounts filed with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).

"Until now, allegations have not been substantiated by evidence and Huawei has sought to assure governments and customers that network security is its absolute priority."

The Irish division saw its revenues jump 26.1pc to almost €120m last year as it was boosted by sales of its smartphones.

Operating profits at the unit, which also supplies 4G and 5G network infrastructure, were 11.6pc higher at €4.8m.

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