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Airbus brings Huawei on board new China R&D center

Aircraft maker partners with Shenzhen tech companies to innovate faster

Workers build the fuselage of an A320 plane at Airbus family final assembly line in Tianjin.   © Reuters

GUANGZHOU -- Aircraft maker Airbus aims to accelerate development of next-generation planes by working with Huawei Technologies and other Chinese companies at an innovation center it recently opened in Shenzhen, known as the Silicon Valley of China.

The facility in Guangdong Province marks only Airbus' second lab of its kind outside of its home in Europe, with the other location in America's Silicon Valley. Investment in the new center is expected to total 10 million euros ($11.4 million).

"Here with the innovation center in Shenzhen, Airbus and our excellent partners are creating a new pillar of innovation for China," Airbus CEO Tom Enders said at the inauguration ceremony.

"Shenzhen is famous for its speed, which is certainly good for our company," Enders said. "We need to be more open to innovation at a faster speed." 

Huawei, based in Shenzhen, will be among the first partners. The plan is to develop internet of things technology to connect various hardware on board aircraft.

Airbus will also work with display maker Royole -- a Chinese startup that grabbed international attention last year by announcing the first foldable-screen smartphone -- to develop advanced LCD panels for passenger entertainment systems.

Airbus operated the lab on a pilot basis from early 2018. With the operation now at full scale, the facility will increase hiring of local talent.

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