China, UK Announce Joint Scientific Research Projects

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Joint investments will flow smart grid and stem cell projects

Jan. 20 – During his two-day visit to Beijing this week, the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said that the United Kingdom had signed deals with China to conduct joint research on stem cells and smart grids. A total of GBP6.8 million (US$10.52 million) will be injected into these projects.

Both the UK and Chinese sides plan to invest around GBP3 million to support the research work on smart grids being carried out by the Research Council’s UK Energy Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

The new cooperation is an extension of a series of joint research projects previously conducted in the energy field, according to a report by the British Embassy. There are a total of 24 ongoing joint research projects between the two countries so far, primarily focused on renewable energy production, carbon capture as well as storage, and the clean production of fossil fuels.

The addition of smart grids to the collaboration has revealed China’s ambition to develop emerging electrical networks, which grant higher efficiency and reliability in electricity services by tracking and acting on information about participant behavior. While the country’s conventional electrical grids are currently monopolized by the two major Chinese grid companies – State Grid Corporation of China and China Southern Power Grid Company – the field of smart grid technology is wide open to foreign investors, bringing a wide span of business opportunities.

The second cooperative program announced is a partnership on stem cell research, a promising medical field aimed at treating human diseases and disorders. The UK Medical Research Council will infuse GBP400,000 to support up to 12 partnerships, with the NSFC providing another GBP360,000 of funding.

“The UK has ambitious plans to engage with China on a range of research projects. Our research partnership recognizes the priorities and strengths of the two countries…I consider the programs that I announced today as key in fostering closer scientific, technological and engineering links with China,” said Osborne.

The UK Chancellor was on his three-day tour of Asia, seeking to expand economic ties with both China and Japan. During a stop-over in Hong Kong earlier, Osborne emphasized Britain’s will to develop the city of London into a second major offshore center (following Hong Kong) for yuan-denominated trading. A joint private-sector London-Hong Kong forum will be launched to help the two cities streamline clearing and settlement systems, boost market liquidity, and develop new yuan-denominated products.

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