Holly White

Holly White

Head of the Science and Innovation Network in China and the Science and Innovation Regional Manager for Asia Pacific

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

15th December 2016 Beijing, China

Developing the first UK-China joint strategy on science and innovation

On 6th December I attended the 4th UK-China People to People Dialogue which is chaired by Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Jeremy Hunt. It covers a range of issues including science and innovation, education, health and culture. John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, travelled to Shanghai to lead the science and innovation strand. “Creativity and Innovation” was specific theme of this year’s dialogue.

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UK high level delegation with Vice Premier Liu Yandong

Given China’s focus on innovation led economic growth in their 13th Five Year Plan released this year, it was perhaps no surprise that Madame Liu spoke extensively about the importance of collaboration in this area. She spoke about the positive impact from the UK’s role as Country of Honour this year at Pujiang, China’s national innovation forum, where we delivered a number of high profile events and created many new partnerships.   She highlighted the Research and Innovation Bridges Newton programme, as another highly successful initiative. The joint programme between Innovate UK, Research Councils and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology will see businesses and researchers working together to develop tech solutions for an aging population, agricultural production, urbanisation and energy sustainability. It was great to see the work of my team and delivery partners receive such a high level of recognition. We hope to announce the successful projects soon.

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John Loughhead and Vice Minister Huang Wei sign agreement to develop a new joint strategy

A key outcome from the dialogue was formalising the agreement to create the first ever UK-China Science and Innovation Strategy, through the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding by John Loughhead and Vice Minister Huang Wei. In addition, both John and Vice Minister Wei chaired the first Strategy Roundtable, attended by over 70 people, where initial proposals for the Strategy were presented by the Chinese Academy for Science and Technology Development (CASTED). Alongside this, representatives from academia, universities and businesses presented their current successes and provided ideas for new and innovative models. The UK will convene an expert group and respond to the detailed proposals.

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However, what was clear in the roundtable was the genuine desire for both sides to work together. China demonstrated a strong wish to have a long-term partnership with the UK, doing all it can to tackle barriers to joint working. Currently Germany is the only other country to have such a strategy with China. It was agreed that the strategy should be based on “win-win” cooperation and mutual benefit, looking beyond the traditional Government supported mechanisms of R&D calls, into a wider portfolio of activity.

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But what was most striking to me was the convergence between the UK and China’s approaches to science and innovation. New language used by China at the roundtable, focusing on the role of both countries working together as world leaders to tackle global challenges and promote open global innovation, mirrors the UK’s approach. The UK, in placing science and innovation at the heart of its industrial strategy, has increased alignment to China’s innovation driven development strategy, including supporting regional growth.

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Senior delegation at the strategy roundtable

Based on the extensive opportunities, I look forward to working on the new strategy. We are aiming to move quickly. Please share your thoughts and ideas about new ways of working than can maximise benefit for both countries.

3 comments on “Developing the first UK-China joint strategy on science and innovation

  1. 25th December 2016, China’s first law on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) was passed by the top legislature to ensure development of TCM, nationally and internationally. TCM is an integral part of mainstream medicine in China and the UK was the coordinating country in the first FP7 EU-China collaboration on TCM research using state-of-the-art omics-based technologies (http://www.gp-tcm.org/the-project/). After the 2015 Nobel Prize award to Professor Tu Youyou in honour of her TCM-inspired discovery of anti-malaria drug artemisinin, it is high time to develop the first UK-China joint strategy on TCM-inspired science and innovation.

  2. Great blog Holly. Thanks for the update.
    I especially like your comment: “China demonstrated a strong wish to have a long-term partnership with the UK, doing all it can to tackle barriers to joint working”.
    This aligns really well with the animal welfare projects we have with China – tackling barriers to joint working. Judy.

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About Holly White

I'm Holly White. I'm the Head of the Science and Innovation Network in China and the Science and Innovation Regional Manager for Asia Pacific. In China we have officers across…

I'm Holly White. I'm the Head of the Science and Innovation Network in China and the Science and Innovation Regional Manager for Asia Pacific. In China we have officers across the country and the Asia Pacific region is large and diverse, spanning from Japan to New Zealand. My role is to maximise opportunities for international collaborations in science and innovation across the region. Prior to this I was Senior Private Secretary to David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. I love walking on the Great Wall – it's definitely the best tourist attraction China.

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