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UK Science and Technology Minister launches new global international science partnership funding in Tokyo with initial £119m of funding

Minister Freeman announces new global research fund to deepen collaboration between the UK and international R&D powers like Japan.

This was published under the 2022 to 2024 Sunak Conservative government

A new global research fund to deepen scientific collaboration between the UK and international R&D powers like Japan will be opened with an initial £119 million in UK Government funding, UK Science Minister George Freeman announced yesterday (Tuesday 13 December) in Tokyo, Japan.

The UK Science Minister was in Tokyo, Japan yesterday to announce the first phase of the new International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF). The fund will support and fund UK scientists and innovators to work with peers around the world on some of the most pressing issues facing our world.

In a keynote speech to scientists, investors, industrialists and global research leaders, Minister Freeman set out the UK’s plans to take a more global approach to science, innovation and business.

This will involve collaborating with partners across the world to both drive innovation, investment and prosperity in the UK, while also strengthening the UK’s leadership in tackling the big global challenges facing the globe; from leading the fight to tackle global warming to harnessing new energy like fusion, cleaning up the oceans and making space safe and sustainable.

UK Science and Technology Minister George Freeman said:

“The UK has a well-earned reputation for world-class science and research, and an extremely vibrant start-up enterprise sector. But being a Science Superpower means ensuring we don’t just win prizes but invest in the appliance of science for global good: collaborating more deeply with other leading nations to tackle the urgent global challenges facing our planet.

“This Fund will help the UK deepen our global research network in Japan and beyond tackling some of humanity’s greatest challenges.”

The Japan visit follows Minister Freeman’s securing of a Memorandum of Understanding on science with European science powerhouse Switzerland earlier this year.

The announcement comes as the UK is facing continued block by the EU to membership of the Horizon, Copernicus and Euratom projects. While this partnership is not aimed as a replacement to our European collaborations, the Government cannot wait forever to invest through association.

The government’s top priority is to invest in the UK’s world leading R&D sector and facilitate their collaborations with international counterparts. It is disappointing that while the government continues to focus on strengthening the UK’s international links and collaborations globally, the EU’s persistent delays to the UK’s association to Horizon is damaging collaboration with European partners. Association remains the UK’s preference, but the government cannot wait forever to invest through association.

One of the projects announced as part of the UK-Japan collaboration includes a research collaboration in neuroscience, neurodegenerative diseases and dementia, aimed at tackling the growing health issues associated with the both the UK and Japan’s ageing populations.

Full details of aims and partners of the ISPF program will be released in the new year.

UKRI’s international champion Professor Christopher Smith said:

“Today’s announcement is a positive first step in the development of this important new international fund. Research and Innovation know no boundaries nor do the multiple challenges we face from pandemics to conflict, climate change to economic shocks.

“International collaboration is integral to ensuring the UK harnesses the extraordinary potential of research and innovation to enrich and improve the lives of people living in the UK and around the world. Having a specific fund to enable international collaboration will help the UK achieve this vision. UKRI will help to deliver ISPF bringing benefits for the UK research and innovation sector and our international partners.”

Alongside the launch of the multi-million-pound fund, Science Minister Freeman today (Wednesday 14 December) also launched a further £15.5 million investment in the ISThe Hyper-Kamiokande (Hyper-K) experiment, which is a next generation global neutrino experiment in Japan.

The experiment aims to measure the properties of neutrinos, a type of particle, which aim to provide a “microscope,” used to observe the very smallest of particles, and also a “telescope” for observing the Sun and supernovas. The experiment is hoped to give us a greater understanding of the properties of the universe.

The UK has already invested £4.2m in the R&D phase of the Hyper-K project between 2014 and 2020, and this additional investment will ensure the UK is able to play a leading role in this cutting-edge research.

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Published 14 December 2022