Minister praises ‘golden era’ of UK-China science and tech partnership

China’s Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang visited Imperial, the UK’s number one research collaborator with China, this week.

The visit, hosted by Imperial’s Provost Professor Ian Walmsley, showcased Imperial’s deep ties with China as well as the College’s research strengths, international collaborations, and industry partnerships.

Minister Wang Zhigang said that he was delighted to learn that Imperial had “established solid collaborations” with its Chinese partners, and that the College is seeking to deepen and strengthen them.

During the discussion, which took place in Imperial’s Data Science Institute four years after a visit from China’s President Xi Jinping, Professor Walmsley introduced Mr Wang to the College’s academic strategy and how it is furthering the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

Praising the College’s world-leading reputation in STEM, Minister Wang, a former scientific researcher, said that the UK and China can do even more together in science and technology, noting opportunities in artificial intelligence, brain sciences and the fourth industrial revolution. He sees STEM collaboration as central to what China’s President calls a “golden era” of UK-China partnership.

The Minister took a close interest in Imperial’s global lead in synthetic biology, in conversation with Dr Geoff Baldwin and Professor Guy Bart-Stan of the Centre for Synthetic Biology. The UK’s first national centre for synthetic biology, it seeks to exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. Research from the centre is directly contributing to the growth of the UK’s bioeconomy, which is set to double to £440bn by 2030.

Professor Paul Freemont gave an introduction into SynbiCITE the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for the commercialisation and translation of synthetic biology based at Imperial. Professor Freemont is co-director of SynbiCITE, along with Professor Dick Kitney. Biomedical engineer Professor Anthony Bull tackled a common UK-China grand challenge: healthy ageing.

Professor Yike Guo, Director of the Data Science Institute, led demonstrations on Imperial’s work to advance research in medicine, air pollution and smart cities.

Among the drivers of Imperial’s 900+ collaborative research publications with China is the Imperial-Tsinghua Centre on Intelligent Power and Energy Systems, which Professor Tim Green explained to the Minister.

Minister Wang learned about Imperial’s research connections with Chinese industry, before meeting a group of entrepreneurial students from the UK, China and around the world.

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