This ground-breaking initiative is the first time that RCUK and MOST have jointly funded a programme of research. RCUK will be investing around £1million with matching funding being made available by MOST for the projects funded under the three thematic areas of healthy ageing populations; energy; and food security.
One project in the programmes will see Dr Dan Tucker, University of Cambridge working with colleagues at Huazhong Agricultural University to investigate Streptococcus suis which is a pathogen of pigs with the potential to transfer to humans. They will be looking at key stages in the pig supply chain to prevent and control the spread of this disease ensuring healthier pigs and humans without the need for antimicrobial intervention which can lead to resistance.
In another project funded through the programme, Professor John Pickett, Rothamsted Research, will collaborate with partners at the Institute of Plant Protection (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences) to investigate the use of homoterpenes in rice as a sustainable alternative for pest control. They hope to find an effective protection method against major insect pest populations and consequently help global food security by decreasing the amount of the crop lost to pests.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “International collaboration is vital to our world class science base, especially with rapidly growing research nations like China. This initiative will see our countries jointly funding research projects for the first time. This will strengthen our relationship, getting our excellent scientists working together to address global challenges.”
Director of RCUK China, Dr Alicia Greated, commented: “These joint projects demonstrate a significant step forward in the RCUK, and UK, relationship with China. Although RCUK and MOST have had a very strong relationship for many years, this is the first example of us truly jointly funding research together. We very much look forward to building our partnership in the future.”
Dr Zhou Longchao, Director of European Affairs, MOST International Bureau commented: “MOST-RCUK collaboration has created a new synergy that joined strengths of both countries in major strategic priorities. It is a substantial answer to the 6th China-UK Science and Innovation Joint Committee Meeting and an important step forward in our bilateral relation with the UK. The outcomes of this joint initiative is very encouraging, and MoST looks forwards to more future collaborative programmes.”
Building on the substantial research partnerships built by RCUK and MOST since the establishment of RCUK China in 2007, the programme aims offer further opportunities for bilateral co-operation between British and Chinese research groups and provide an integrated approach to addressing topics of mutual strength and interest.