Huawei’s rotating CEO Guo Ping continued his charm offensive in Europe, suggesting in a blog post on its European website that EU-China cooperation holds huge potential for enabling the continent’s industrial sector to take a leadership role in the digital economy.
Guo (pictured), who was in Europe in May to announce the launch of its European Research Institute in Leuven, Belgium, asked at that time for European regulators to treat Huawei like a local firm, promising to invest more in return.
“If we can be given a fair opportunity to participate like other European companies, that would be an encouragement to us,” Guo had said, one of the company’s three rotating CEOs.
With its opportunities in the US limited by de facto restrictions on imports of its network gear, Huawei has been keen to foster its relationships with European governments, regulators and operators to continue its rapid global growth. This is particularly critical as China’s economy slows and the country’s 4G build-out nears completion in the next two years.
The Chinese vendor now has nearly 10,000 employees across the continent, with 1,200 in R&D.
Guo wrote in yesterday’s blog that Huawei wants to collaborate with Europe to drive the digitalisation of so-called Industry 4.0, which he said needs to be developed across three key layers: devices, infrastructure and applications.
The continent first must accelerate its efforts to make devices smart, he said. “This means designing sensors into industrial machinery and household appliances, equipping them with operating systems and software, and connecting them to networks. This will generate enormous commercial value.”
A research report by BI Intelligence forecasts that efficiencies resulting from the Internet of Things (IoT) will add $1.7 trillion to the global economy by 2019.
Second, he said Europe needs to lead the development of global next-generation communications standards to create the digital infrastructure for Industry 4.0. As new communications connect people to things and things to each other, Europe will need to meet the surging demand for capacity and connections, many of them mobile.
Existing technologies are simply not up to the job, he said. “For that reason, Europe is beginning to move towards the adoption of 5G.”
Third, European companies need to collaborate at the application layer, where the real value of Industry 4.0 resides, he said. “They must hone their capability to create applications in automotive, energy, industrial machinery and equipment, and other verticals.”
Guo claimed that Huawei is already making a “concrete contribution” to this process. It is collaborating with applied research organisation Fraunhofer to cooperate on Industry 4.0. Together with SAP, it aims to launch IoT and Industry 4.0 solutions for the transportation, oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors.
“Together, Industry 4.0 and IoT will form a huge, complex ecosystem that relies on information made available in real time through broadband networks. EU-China cooperation can make a huge contribution to making this ecosystem a reality. Realising this potential will require unprecedented collaboration and openness, but the payoff will be worth the effort — for Europe and China,” he concluded.