The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, UK Minister for Science and Universities, announced £7million of UK China research and innovation funding during his visit to China with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to participate in the UK China Economic and Financial Dialogue. The UK China science and innovation relationship is going from strength to strength, as demonstrated by the fact that there are currently £47 million of jointly funded UK China research programmes. The Minister spoke to journalists during a visit to Beijing Machine Tools Institute on Monday, where he announced new figures which show that in 2011 the UK overtook Japan to become second only to the US in the number of its joint research publications with China.
The Minister announced three major collaborative UK-China joint programmes, totalling over £7 million of co-funding from the UK Research Councils, the Technology Strategy Board and Chinese partners.
A new investment of £3 million from the UK’s innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board, Research Councils UK (RCUK), and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology will be used to support research and innovation partnerships in the area of sustainable manufacturing. This is the first collaboration of its kind between RCUK, the Technology Strategy Board and an international partner outside Europe, and will support the development and commercialisation of innovative approaches to sustainable manufacturing.
RCUK and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to jointly commit up to £4 million in collaboration to fund a second phase of stem cell research between leading scientists from UK and China. This will build on a previous investment to build UK-China partnerships in this important area of research. Leading experts from China and the UK will meet in Shanghai this week to review the UK-China partnership and establish the next phase of our partnership.
RCUK and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) are pleased to co-fund 5 UK-China partnering awards which will support development of collaborations between leading UK and Chinese researchers in the area of synthetic biology. £250,000 of funding will be used to support collaborative activities such as exchange of early career researchers, workshops, reciprocal access to facilities, networking and travel over a 3-4 year period. This is the first time Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have run a joint funding call with CAS and it is hoped that this will form a strong foundation for further joint working with China in the future.
The Minister met with Vice Minister Cao Jianlin of the Ministry of Science & Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MoST) on Monday and both sides agreed to strengthen bilateral innovation collaboration.
The Minister also announced the launch of a new report on China’s innovation landscape, by the UK’s innovation foundation Nesta. The report, titled ‘China’s Absorptive State’, includes new statistics which show that the UK is now China’s second largest research partner in terms of co-publications, and recommends that the UK and China develop a new five year strategy for collaboration in research and innovation to harness the huge potential in this area.
The Minister said:
This £7 million boost for research and innovation in stem cells, sustainable manufacturing and synthetic biology is further evidence that UK-China relations are going from strength to strength. China is a natural partner in this type of innovative scientific venture and I am confident that over the coming years we will be able to celebrate even more fruitful joint projects that will help both our economies to grow.
Cao Jinghua, Deputy Director-General of Bureau of International Cooperation of CAS, said:
We at CAS attach great importance to international collaboration. The idea of this program is to put the best minds together. Together our scientists and these from the UK can advance this field more efficiently. In the progress of their cooperation, I hope they will further strengthen their linkages and collaboration, and tackle bigger challenges for the needs of mankind.