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RCUK Office in China Newsletter---28 January 2011

发布时间: 2011-03-01      访问次数: 90

 
 
 
  RCUK Office in China Newsletter
                      28 January 2011
 
S&T News: UK and China
 
UK publishes funding plans for science and research 2011-2015
Funding plans for science and research 2011/12 to 2014/15 (the spending review period) were published by the UK government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 20 December 2010. The individual budgets for the seven UK Research Councilswere announced by David Willetts, Minister for Universities & Science. The total budget allocation across RCUK for the spending review period is around £11.2 billion. After taking inflation into account, this translates into a 10% cut by 2014. Chair of RCUK, Professor Alan Thorpe, said: “This allocation confirms the value that Government has placed on research investment for the UK. In the context of a very difficult public sector settlement, it is very encouraging that the allocations to the Research Councils have fared so well. Of course, to manage within our budgets there will need to be rigorous prioritisation by Councils and some difficult strategic decisions will need to be made.”
 
To coincide with the government announcement each Research Council published its own Delivery Plan for the period. Please see below ‘News from Research Councils UK’ for details.
 
Related articles:
While the UK government has ring-fenced the science budget for the next four years, capital spending on science infrastructure will be reduced by around 40%. But major facilities such as Diamond and subscriptions to major international partnerships such as CERN will be protected. Professor Alan Thorpe, chair of Research Councils UK, said: "The cut to the capital budgets of the research councils will present particularly significant challenges going forward but we have a good foundation, and excellence with impact will remain at the core of what we do."
 
In response to the budget allocations, the Research Councils are repositioning their relationships with key stakeholders and reshaping their portfolios of funding opportunities. Funding will be targeted at top institutions and outstanding individuals, with additional measures to manage demand for research grants. There will be a focus on larger, longer grants.
 
The UK is giving extra support to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to develop farming practices which will help ensure more food is available for struggling communities in the face of floods, droughts, risingtemperatures and other impacts of climate change. The Department for International Development (DfID) will contribute £36.75 mn to CGIAR for climate change adaptation projects, rice productivity, and support for CGIAR research centres.
£16.1mn of this funding forms part of the UK’s £1.5bn contribution to the international “fast start” climate change initiative, promised after the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.
An independent panel of international experts has judged the RCUK Energy Programme to be "excellent". The Energy programme, launched in 2002, works with around 500 public and private sector partners to enable the UK to meet its carbon reduction targets. The panel found that the programme delivers a good return on investment and that the excellent international reputation of UKresearch in energy is deservedly earned.
 
The International Classification of Traditional Medicine will be set up by the World health organisation in 2011 to document traditional medicines and enable objective evaluation of their benefits using the same criteria for all countries, allowing researchers and policymakers to monitor their safety and efficacy. Governments can also use the information to integrate traditional medicine into their health policies. The classification will initially focus on traditional medicines from China, Japan and South Korea.
 
A roundtable dialogue between scientists and the general public in October 2010 was the first occasion for Chinese scientists to learn of public concern about GM crops, which has emerged since the Ministry of Agriculture issued safety certificates for two kinds of GM rice and one type of GM maize in November 2009. Local media reports following the ministry's decision revealed concern about unknown health effects of GM crops. Scientists who participated in the dialogue said it was the first time they had been made aware of the extent of the public's fears.
 
Chile, Colombia and Ecuador have strengthened their science and technology collaboration with China by signing cooperation agreements during a recent visit by a 40-strong Chinese delegation. The visit was headed by State Councillor Madam Liu Yandong and including MOST vice minister Cao Jianlin. The agreements highlight China's growing interest in collaboration with Latin American countries at a similar stage of development. They will encourage basic research in different fields.
 
    
News from the Research Councils UK
As mentioned above, all seven Research Councils have now published their Delivery Plans in the light of their budgets for the period 2011-2015. The plans reflect a shift from a simple funding role to a more active investor/sponsor role, working in partnership with key stakeholders. Funding opportunities are being simplified, with a trend to larger/longer research grants and a greater concentration on thematic priorities and grand challenges. Measures to manage demand for funding will continue to develop, to enhance the efficiency of the funding system.
 
AHRC
AHRC’s priorities and commitments over the period include new Thematic Programmes on Digital Transformations; Translating Cultures; Care for the Future; and Science in Culture, as well as the cross-Council Connected Communities programme.
 
A new research report offers advice to the UK cultural sector on how best to articulate their value to central government. This report’s author, Dr David O'Brien from Leeds Metropolitan University, carried out the study on a 6-month research fellowship jointly funded by AHRC, ESRC and the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).
 
BBSRC
BBSRC’s funding allocation of almost £1.5 bn over the next four years is an excellent outcome in the current budgetary climate, and reflects the government’s recognition of the role of bioscience in tackling major challenges such as food security and sustainable technologies, and in driving economic recovery in the knowledge based bio-economy. The Delivery Plan, titledMaximising Economic Growth in the Age of Bioscience, highlights three Grand Challenges: Food security; Industrial biotech & bioenergy; and Fundamental bioscience enhancing lives and improving wellbeing. BBSRC is repositioning itself as an ‘investor’ rather than a ‘funder’, and developing strategic partnerships with key universities. BBSRC institutes will move to self-governing status during 2011 and function as national research facilities working closely with universities and other institutes to deliver on the Grand Challenges.
 
Collaboration between BBSRC, Oxford Brookes University and STFC-funded scientists has used a new form of low energy microscopy to observe how pox viruses interact with components inside live cells. Scientists hope that the technique will help to develop more effective vaccines that reduce the chances of healthy birds acting as a reservoir for influenza virus.
 
EPSRC
EPSRC is changing from a funder to a sponsor of research, building proactive partnerships with key stakeholders in response to a budget which will shrink slightly over the period from £830 mn to £780 mn. The Delivery Plan 2011-2015 has three themes: 1 Delivering Impact, 2 Developing Leaders, and 3 Shaping Capability. EPSRC will place greater emphasis on collaboration with internationally excellent researchers.
 
Supported by EPSRC, a team at Queen's University Belfast has developed a prototype decision-making game that could be commercialised as an e-learning or training tool for professionals in all walks of life - and for the general public too. The prototype game (available for anyone to try out at the World Of Uncertainty quiz website) teaches people to take their uncertainty into account and learn from experience when faced with simple choices.
 
ESRC
Although ESRC’s budget will shrink slightly over the period from £174.6 mn to £166.2 mn, this is seen as a good outturn in the tightUK budgetary situation. Three key priorities will be targeted: 1 Economic Performance & Sustainable Growth; 2 Influencing Behaviour & Informing Interventions; and 3 Vibrant & Fair Society. The portfolio of funding opportunities will be simplified. ESRC will sustain its investment in the UK’s world-leading research infrastructure, including longitudinal studies.
 
ESRC has announced 21 new DTCs to deliver postgraduate training to 600 new 3-year studentship holders a year. The greater concentration of funded places is expected to provide a stronger training environment. The DTCs were selected via a rigorous selection process.
 
MRC
The MRC plan highlights four strategic themes: 1 New frontiers in biomedical research; 2 Living a long and healthy life; 3 Health research as a global issue; and 4 Harnessing population health sciences for the public health agenda. Although annual budgets rise slightly to reach £575 mn by 2014, MRC will continue to promote the concentration of expertise and facilities for research efficiency, working in partnership with key universities. Several MRC units will move across to university ownership. Translation of research into clinical practice remains a priority.
 
Seventeen major research funders have signed a joint statement in which they commit to work together to support timely and responsible sharing of population data to unlock research potential and achieve significant advances in public health. The signatories, including MRC and ESRC, are committed to increasing access to data in ways that are equitable, ethical and efficient.
 
The MRC and Arthritis Research UK have committed £2.5million for a new research centre for musculoskeletal ageing. Closing date for bids to run the centre is 23 February 2011. The centre will investigate the causes and processes of musculoskeletal ageing, working towards effective new treatments to combat the musculoskeletal decline which occurs as people age.
 
NERC
NERC will increase the budget share allocated to top priority research programmes; spend more on knowledge exchange between research, business and policymaking; maintain current levels of doctoral training; and promote further integration of its six research centres to deliver a single national capability strategy. Key goals are to secure competitive advantage for the UK in creating a global green economy, and enhancing national resilience to environmental crises.
 
A new biotechnology start-up company from NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the University of Oxford aims to develop recombinant protein products that will treat inflammation and diseases that affect the immune system.
 
Dr Michele Stanley has been appointed Director of the NERC-funded AB-SIG network, hosted by the Technology Strategy Board Biosciences Knowledge Transfer Network. The KTN will consider commercial opportunities of using micro- and macro-algae for energy and chemicals production and the environmental considerations associated with large-scale deployment.
 
Manufactured nanomaterials are becoming big business for consumer goods, but could also bring risks to health and the environment. This UK-US research initiative is jointly funded by NERC, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Department of Health and the Environment Agency, together with the US Environmental Protection Agency.
 
STFC
Having already undergone re-prioritisation of its activities in 2009, STFC is in a strong position to deliver its programmes and priorities in the coming four years. Highlights include support for a world class programme in astronomy, particle physics and nuclear physics; new funding schemes to nurture future research leaders and support global challenges, innovation and collaborative R&D; and maintaining spending on grants and studentships. The Diamond Light Source will be fully exploited, but there will be reduced operation of ISIS and the Central Laser Facility. Access for UK researchers to international facilities will be maintained at levels agreed with international partners and the other Research Councils.
 
The first scientific results from Europe's Planck spacecraft have been released. They focus on the coldest objects in the Universe, and include an exciting variety of astronomical finds from massive galaxy clusters to new, unidentified objects. Planck is a flagship mission of the UK Space Agency, which funds the UK's involvement in both of Planck's scientific instruments. STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory played a key role in the design and build of these instruments and Planck's sophisticated cooling system.
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RCUK China Office Activities
RCUK China Office Chinese New Year Holiday Arrangements
Please note our working days/closed days during the coming Chinese New Year holidays:
               Office closed                              Working Day 
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
January 24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
February 1
2
New Year Eve
3
Chinese New Year
4
5
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9
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11
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13
Back to normal
 
SIN China Planning Day
RCUK China Director Chris Godwin attended the annual planning meeting of the British Embassy’s Science & Innovation Network (SIN) in Guangzhou on 18 and 19 January. The meeting discussed coordination between the RCUK and SIN teams in the light of the rapidly expanding links between UK and Chinese researchers and institutions.    
 
The meeting took place in the new Guangdong Science Centre. The Centre’s Deputy Director JIANG Hongbo kindly organised a tour of this very impressive facility.
 
Research Workshops
10-12 January 2011 Beijing,  Workshop on Metals in Organic Synthesis: Toward Cleaner, Greener Chemical Processes
The UK and China have world leading research groups in organic synthesis and catalysis, including Durham, Liverpool, Peking and Wuhan Universities, CAS Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and CAS Institute of Chemistry. Several of these groups have already collaborated, resulting in exchanges of Ph.D. students in both directions and in high quality publications in leading international journals. The workshop brought these leaders together to discuss the state-of-the-art, plan new research ventures, and introduce new participants. The inclusion of early and mid-career researchers with strong records of achievement should result in long-term, sustainable collaborations and funding. At this first workshop each chemist gave a brief research report, followed by extensive discussion and planning of future activities. For many UK participants this was their first visit to China, and they welcomed the chance to build personal links with key Chinese chemists. The workshop was funded by RCUK China and co-organised by Durham University and Peking University.
 
11-12 January 2011 Beijing,  Workshop on Mapping China’s Future Media Cultures: The Presentation of Digital 3-D Cinema in the World’s Biggest Market
New Technology, New Aesthetics, New Experience and New Market were the key themes for this two-day workshop co-organised by University of Nottingham and Tsinghua University. Participants included Dolby China, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television of China, as well as Crystal CG Corporation, who provided the media team for the 2008 Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai Expo, and the London 2012 Olympics. The workshop, held at China’s recently opened National Film Museum, aimed to initiate a long-term research network investigating the expansion of the Chinese creative media industries and providing a framework for UK-China collaboration drawing in scholars and industry specialists from Europe, US and Asia.
 
Strategic Links
17-21 January 2011 Nanjing& Shanghai
MRC Mary Lyon Centre’s China visit to explore collaboration on mouse labs
A delegation led by Prof. Tom Weaver from MRC Harwell Mary Lyon Centre visited Nanjing and Shanghai, to follow up the signing of an MoU between Mary Lyon Centre and Nanjing University Model Animal Research Centre (MARC) to set up distribution, access and sharing of unique data and bioresources. The delegation included a programme manager from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3R) to examine the collaboration from an animal welfare angle. Prof. Xiang Gao, director of MARC, hosted the visit, which included intensive research collaboration discussions and a thorough laboratory tour. The delegation also visited Fudan University Institute of Developmental Biology & Molecular Medicine and Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine. This visit is one of RCUK China Office’s Strategic Link Services provided to Research Council long-term funded units.
 
Upcoming Events
16-20 February 2011: MRC Epidemiology Unit Beijing visit (Strategic Links programme)
 
28 February-3 March 2011: NERC National Oceanography Centre delegation visit, Beijing & Qingdao (Strategic Links programme)
 
28 February-1 March 2011: Research Workshop on Advanced methods for integrating climate projections into flood risk estimation methods – investigating extreme extremes, Beijing
 
February 2011: Research workshop on Enhancing business innovation capacity through design research collaborations,Shanghai
 
8 – 9 March 2011: UK-China Energy Conference, Beijin

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