In a move that reflects China’s growing importance in the scientific world – the first collaboration program between UK and Chinese research has been launched to promote “joint innovation and knowledge transfer” between the two countries. The launch comes in the same week that the Research Councils UK open their first overseas office in China.
Innovation China UK (ICUK) involves five British and more than 10 Chinese higher education institutions, and will support academic and business partners in forging collaborations, funding proof-of-concept research, and commercialising joint intellectual property across the UK and China.
British Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson said: “Such exciting research partnerships mark a potentially significant step in the capability of both countries to boost knowledge transfer. With greater knowledge transfer comes a greater ability to innovate. Both the UK and China are at the forefront of cutting edge science. Together we can benefit from a strong research base that works effectively with business.”
Led by Queen Mary, University of London, ICUK aims to create an integrated framework of support and funding, which includes an ICUK Collaboration Development Fund into which partner institutions can submit applications for proof-of-concept research and collaboration development grants. The UK is providing £5 million funding from the Higher Education Innovation Fund and increased business engagement in universities. China is providing complementary funding through its Ministry of Science Technology.
ICUK will focus its main activities on energy, climate change and sustainable environment, infectious diseases, biomedicine and drug discovery (including traditional Chinese medicine), nanotechnology and material science, and space technology. Other British partners involved in ICUK are King’s College London, the University of Nottingham, the Royal Veterinary College, and the University of Southampton.
The launch of ICUK came in the same week that the China office of Research Councils UK was opened. Designed to strengthen links between the UK and China in the scientific and academic sectors, the office is the first of its type outside Europe.
Professor Ian Diamond, chair of the RCUK Executive Group, said: “China is the obvious choice for the RCUK’s first overseas office. China’s growing importance in the world is clear – but overcoming geographical, cultural and funding-system barriers needs sustained dialogue and cooperation on many fronts. A permanent Beijing base for such work will make a huge impact.”
UK-China partnership is set to strengthen research links