UK and China sign joint Science and Innovation Strategy

8 December 2017

The UK and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the UK-China Science and Innovation Forum at the Royal Society in London.

The Forum was held as part of the fifth annual Ministerial meeting between the UK and China, and was opened by HRH Prince Andrew. It forms a part of our programme of backing international collaboration and we see it as an opportunity to strengthen the co-operative networks we have with our Chinese colleagues.

The MOU was signed by Jo Johnson, minister for universities, science, research and innovation and Wan Gang, Chinese minister of science and technology, and commits the two countries to strengthen collaboration across the breadth of research through to commercialisation of technology. The strategy also pledges that both countries will respect each other’s intellectual property (IP) rights and further improve IP through a set of shared principles. It also promises both the UK and China will focus on project-based collaboration that will address global challenges and drive socio-economic development.

A key shared principle will be to engage the research and innovation communities, so that implementation will rest with a range of local organisations and institutions as well as talented individual researchers and innovators. We are pleased to see that physics, astronomy, mathematics, meteorology and climate are named as priority areas for research collaboration, and some technologies on which the UK and China will work together will include offshore renewable energy, smart technologies, energy storage and the efficiency of buildings.

Wan Gang and Liu Yandong, vice-premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, both noted the strong relationship China has with the UK science base and the large number of Chinese students who come to study here. Also mentioned were the 72 co-operation agreements we have in place, a signal that the Chinese government attaches great importance to China-UK co-operation on science, technology and innovation. With the new strategy, the scope of our joint co-operation will now be further extended. Acknowledging that China had some way to go in developing its rural areas, they explained that the Chinese government has an ambition to eliminate poverty by 2020, so innovation is a key focus as it is the primary driving force for development.

In a panel discussion, it was pointed out that innovation was not just a matter of providing more funding but depended on several factors that include bringing academia, business and government together. Both the UK and China are good at research but need to strengthen commercialisation and get more businesses engaged, the panel members said. Views were also expressed from the floor that the UK is not good at scaling up small business while China has strength here, and that more UK students should be encouraged to study in China to experience the culture.

The IOP was represented at the meeting by Tajinder Panesor, our head of international, who said: “The signing of the strategy provides additional focus for the IOP’s work to develop closer links between physics research groups in the UK and their Chinese counterparts. Many of our members are currently engaged in research programmes with Chinese partners and we will look to provide additional opportunities to support exchanges, particularly for our early-career researchers, in support of collaborative research programmes that will help to address some of society’s most pressing challenges.”



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