Goldsmith with honorary PhD

The research group of Andrea Goldsmith at Stanford, one of the world’s leading communications researchers, received about half its funding from Huawei. Matt Drange now reports that the company has donated $7 million to Berkeley. It has also been a supporter of MIT’s Media Lab and spends $300 million per year supporting university research around the world.

Universities in the US have a strong tradition of academic freedom, but all three universities have now forbidden faculty from accepting funding from Huawei. Two senior faculty members have confirmed to me the US government put the universities under pressure. Neither is funded by Huawei. MIT gets half a billion a year in federal funding.

Nearly all the money went to basic research, for which corporate money is rare.

Dredge has a useful set of documents from Berkeley with details of the grants.

None of the grants were related to classified information. As is standard, Huawei would get briefings, visits, and a chance to meet students and faculty. In other words, about the kind of access I as a well-known technology reporter receive from several universities. “Come visit our labs,” I’m often asked.

Huawei funds dozens of top universities and has never been accused of misusing those connections. Its relationship with the schools is similar to the school’s ties with Microsoft or Nokia.

Huawei is now in a position where any improvement in basic communications science pays off for them. Google and Facebook benefit from anything that advances the Internet and thereby the companies’ market. Google spends hundreds of millions supporting Internet projects from which it receives no direct benefit.

Huawei only sells about a third of the communications equipment worldwide. That’s enough to benefit from any advances although not close to the dominance of Facebook & Google.

Almost alone among giant corporations, Huawei makes a point of spending a substantial research budget in all the countries it sells in.