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UK-US higher education, science, and innovation collaboration

Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama agree that science and higher education are the foundation stones of their two nations' 21st century economies.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister Cameron and President Obama agree that science and higher education are the foundation stones of their two nations’ 21st century economies and that the UK and US have a responsibility to further their global leadership roles in these essential fields. The US funds approximately one-third of the world’s scientific research and the UK is first among G-8 countries in scientific publications and citations as a fraction of GDP. In higher education, the US and UK are home to the world’s ten highest ranking universities.

Recognising the great potential for productive cooperation in these domains, the Prime Minister and President reaffirmed during the State visit their mutual commitment to strong collaboration in science and higher education and agreed to work to increase the number of joint endeavours among individuals in cutting-edge laboratories, universities, scientific societies, think tanks, government agencies to develop human capital and ensure a strong and agile knowledge base. They expressed particular support for cooperation in fields that will create jobs and generate new economic opportunities in both countries while tackling some of the most pressing global challenges facing the world today. The leaders also expressed a determination to maintain research excellence that leads to economic growth and job creation. 

The UK and the US are world-leading knowledge economies and enjoy the most productive bilateral higher education relationship in the world, with each country being the other’s top destination for overseas study – a partnership worth more than $1 billion annually. The Prime Minister and President welcomed the forthcoming meeting of the UK-US Higher Education Policy Forum. They also encouraged further strengthening of institutional higher education links including international internships and other modes of mutual mobility for students and faculty members–between the US and UK and in cooperation with other global partners–to better equip American and British students with the skills needed to succeed in and bolster the global economy.

The leaders welcomed in particular the growing partnership between the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service, codified with the signing of an historic Memorandum of Agreement in February 2011. This agreement provides for a coordinated US-UK partnership in the delivery of space weather alerts to help provide critical infrastructure protection around the globe. The two governments announced today that they will embark together on an ambitious program to create the world’s first combined space weather model capable of forecasting terrestrial weather with great accuracy and also indicating where, when, and for how long space weather effects will persist in our upper atmosphere and whether these anomalies are likely to disrupt and degrade GPS-enabled positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities. 

In addition, the leaders announced a package of significant ongoing and future activities intended to deepen their partnership and commitment to meeting global challenges in the following areas: Space Science and Exploration, Clean Energy and Climate Science, Food Security, Health and Wellbeing, Innovation and Growth. Each of these is detailed on the corresponding Joint Statement Addendum on Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Collaboration.

Addendum on higher education, science, and innovation collaboration

The Prime Minister and President highlighted the long and distinguished tradition of bilateral collaboration in science and innovation, noting that some 30 per cent of the UK’s internationally co-authored papers are with US partners and those papers produce an impact that is 50 per cent higher than the UK research-base average. The leaders expressed their determination to maintain research excellence that leads to economic growth and job creation and asked their respective science advisers to advance strategic discussions on areas of mutual interest while also encouraging closer ties between the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST). The leaders also agreed to work together in several specific research areas including:

Innovation, Jobs, and Growth: The US and the UK are two of the world’s most active investors in venture capital. The leaders agreed to work together to ensure that innovative, high-growth businesses have access to venture capital to fund their growth and create highly skilled jobs. The Prime Minister and President also noted their respective countries’ achievements in attracting research and development investment from overseas. They welcomed the decision by Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology and its company Janssen to partner with six leading British Universities to undertake cutting edge neuroscience research.

Space Science and Exploration: The Prime Minister and President noted that the US and the UK have enjoyed fruitful bilateral cooperation in earth and space science and look forward to new initiatives in these areas and in space exploration. The leaders also acknowledged the significant contributions to understanding our own planet and noted the UK’s important contributions, through the European Space Agency and in collaborations with the US, relating to Mars exploration, astronomy, and space physics.

Terrestrial and Space Weather: In addition to the collaborations detailed above, the Met Office and NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center will establish a second 24/7 space weather forecast office to complement and coordinate the dissemination of actionable space weather information. At this years’ World Meteorological Congress, the two countries have agreed to work together with other international partners to implement a fully operational global space weather warning system. This close engagement will reflect the increasingly international nature of space whilst respecting our separate national priorities.

Health and Wellbeing: The two leaders endorsed collaboration between world-class longitudinal studies in the US and UK, with the potential to transform our understanding of issues such as childhood obesity, cancer, aging, and emotional wellbeing. The President and PM Cameron also welcomed the involvement of the Economic and Social Research Council in partnership with the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health in the development of a US National Research Council Panel on Measuring Subjective Wellbeing, which has the potential to generate new insights that will directly inform social and economic policies. The two leaders also noted the new programme of joint research on the ecology of infectious diseases.
Clean Energy and Climate Science: The two leaders agreed on the importance of continued collaboration and concerted international effort in clean energy and climate science. They expressed their strong support for the next Clean Energy Ministerial, which will take place in London in 2012. They endorsed the announcement of UK co-funding of the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education program in the area of Sustainable Materials for Energy, agreeing that sustainability should be a key consideration when making choices among competing energy technology options. The US, through its Department of Agriculture (USDA), will continue working with the UK as a part of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases to address mitigation of greenhouse gases from croplands, livestock production systems, and paddy rice, while enhancing food security. In addition, the UK and US entities are engaging African and Asian developing countries in the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project to better understand the implications of climate change on food production and food security around the world and to develop adaption strategies. They emphasised the importance of data sharing and open science data policies that support climate research and modelling.

Published 25 May 2011