Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecommunications giant the U.S. blacklisted, is secretly funding cutting-edge research at American universities including Harvard through an independent Washington-based foundation.

Huawei is the sole funder of a research competition that has awarded millions of dollars since its inception in 2022 and attracted hundreds of proposals from scientists around the world, including those at top U.S. universities that have banned their researchers from working with the company, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.

The competition is administered by the Optica Foundation, an arm of the nonprofit professional society Optica, whose members’ research on light underpins technologies such as communications, biomedical diagnostics and lasers.