U of T, Huawei extend research partnership

The University of Toronto and Huawei, the information and communications technologies solutions giant, have agreed to extend a research partnership that bolsters the university’s research and training activities, while also providing a mechanism to turn early-stage discoveries into real-world products. 

The new, five-year agreement, extends the existing partnership with Huawei Canada. To date, the Canadian subsidiary of the Chinese ICT solution provider has provided more than $3.5 million in research funding to U of T projects. 

“We’re pleased to extend this partnership,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation. “As a global institution, the University of Toronto enters into partnerships with a wide range of domestic and multinational companies in a bid to stay at the leading edge of research in Canada and around the world.”

Such partnerships boost opportunities for innovation and education by providing researchers and students with tools, technologies and data that might otherwise be inaccessible, Goel added.

They also open new avenues for investigation for U of T researchers, provide graduates with links to potential job opportunities and strengthen Toronto’s innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure.

In total, U of T has partnered with hundreds of companies over the past decade, roughly half of which are Canadian firms.

Ali Sheikholeslami, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, is one of several U of T professors who have been involved in research collaborations with Huawei. He and his group design state-of-the-art circuits with applications for high-speed interconnects.

“It’s important to partner with companies that share the vision we hold as a university of addressing significant challenges of our society over the longer term, not just year to year,” said Sheikholeslami, who was instrumental in expanding the partnership.

“There are very few other industry partners with the potential to move new ideas from research concept all the way to potential product integration – Huawei is unique in that.”

Sheikholeslami said working with Huawei gives his team access to the latest technologies and platforms, as well as a critical mass of industry researchers to collaborate with through its Ontario-based centres in Markham and Ottawa.

“Our proximity to these hubs of activity has been an enormous benefit to my students and my colleagues,” he said. “They get to collaborate with leaders in the field, and the result is that some of our graduates get hired there. More and more I find myself working with our former students.”

The renewed Huawei agreement with U of T is part of a broader investment in Canada by the global maker of telecom gear. Huawei Canada now employs more than 600 engineers in Canada, and has research agreements in place with a number of universities across the country, focused on a range of next-generation communications technologies.

U of T’s existing research partnership with Huawei Canada was signed in the spring of 2016. It built upon a relationship between the company and individual researchers in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Learn more about industry partnerships at U of T


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