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Joint research and innovation projects into smart cities announced

06 July, 2021
Following G7 hosted in Cornwall and new Spaceport being built, the South West Business Council, including Lord Robin Teverson and the Earl of Devon, promote South West as an innovation powerhouse at global tech forum
PLANS FOR NEW UK-CHINA INNOVATION CENTRE ANNOUNCED

Following the G7 summit hosted in Cornwall and the new Spaceport being built, the South West Business Council, including Lord Robin Teverson and the Earl of Devon, are promoting the South West as an innovation powerhouse.

Lord Robin Teverson, The Earl of Devon and leaders of top UK universities have joined the Lord Mayor of Birmingham to unite with the committee behind one of China’s new smart cities to announce joint research and innovation projects.

The team leading development of the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area, one of 13 new technology hubs and free trade zones in China, will be outlining plans for the new research centre, called the ‘Nanjing Jiangbei New Area Sino-UK Innovation and Development Centre’. In recent years, the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area committee has been working with key players in the UK’s innovation space to develop the new centre for collaboration at both national and regional levels.

The plans are being discussed at the ‘Nanjing Jiangbei New Area - South West UK Cooperation Forum’ during Nanjing Tech Week, a leading event promoting international innovation cooperation, hosted by the city of Nanjing. The forum gives entrepreneurs from China and the UK the platform to brainstorm opportunities and ways of working together.

Nanjing is currently twinned with Birmingham, UK, and the cities have a long-term working relationship. Muhammad Afzal, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, says:

“These recent disrupted years have caused our world to re-think engagement strategies. Events like this provide pathways for innovation and technology to take the lead in building our futures.

“The establishment of the ‘Nanjing Jiangbei New Area Sino-UK Innovation and Development Centre’ will strengthen opportunities for us all to work together for the common good.”

Nanjing Jiangbei New Area is growing quickly. In 2020, the new city saw an increase of 300 new technology companies set up in the area, 1,543 science SMEs registered, 7,906 invention patents requested and the establishment of 12 universities.

So, to promote growth between two regions showing strong technological development, the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area is announcing a collaboration with The South West Business Council, an economic partnership representing the interests of businesses across the region of the UK, at the forum. Insight from the council’s board members, including Tim Jones, Chairman, Charles Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and Lord Robin Teverson, member of the House of Lords and former MEP, has highlighted the development taking place in the South West, positioning the region as a strong partner for cooperation.

Discussions of business and educational collaboration are taking place at the forum, alongside plans to set up the ‘South West Business Council China Office’ within the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area.

Tim Jones, chairman of the South West Business Council, says:

“The UK leaving the EU has been difficult, but we are determined to develop global relationships. So, this is an important step in that direction and a huge statement for partnership working. We have strong academic links with Nanjing through our universities. Now we want to translate that into business activities, so that all of our businesses, big and small, can work towards the future together.

“Technology is the future, it is the way which growth will be achieved. Our view is that partnership working is the key, but we need to take the next generation with us so that they can maintain a sustainable relationship with growth economies like China.”

Charles Courtenay, Earl of Devon and board member of the South West Business Council, says:

“There is a vast array of cutting-edge technology companies here in the South West of the UK. We are able to produce environmentally sustainable and healthy food that both sequesters carbon back into the soil and produces an incredibly healthy and varied diet. Indeed, it’s through the work of the Universities in the region that the South West has become the natural powerhouse that it is.

“It’s therefore with real pride that I'm able to talk about the amazing work in environmental and agricultural science and invite further strong and close relationships with China in these important growing market sectors.“

Lord Robin Teverson, member of the House of Lords, former MEP and board member of the South West Business Council, says:

“There is a focus on the South West at the moment following G7. We are a successful region which is growing in the food, technology, tourism, environmental and higher education sectors. We are also set to become a beneficiary of the UK government’s levelling-up process, with increased investment in research and development.

“Internationally, regional connections are even more important than national ones. They allow close cooperation between individuals, joint programmes that are practical rather than theoretical and SMEs on both sides can involved. This is an important initiative – may our cultural and economic relationship continue to grow.”

David Underwood, Associate at Exeter College and board member of the South West Business Council, says:

“This new opportunity will broaden our collaboration and provide more opportunities to work together, venturing into wider society and business areas, both within the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area and within the South West of the UK.

“The South West Business Council brings together many businesses in the South West, so this will provide tremendous opportunities to engage with people in Nanjing Jiangbei New Area in developing capabilities and new technologies, so that we can mutually benefit for the future.”

Invited to participate in the forum by the South West Business Council, Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter, board member of the Russell Group, is signing a memorandum of cooperation between Nanjing Jiangbei New Area and the Innovation Centre of the South West University Alliance in the United Kingdom(1). She says:

“The University of Exeter is constantly seeking new ways to engage with partners across the world to build productive relationships to tackle global challenges.

“We have researchers who are working in partnership with researchers at Nanjing University’s School of Earth Sciences and Engineering to develop a deep-time digital earth program. Delving into the earth’s deep-time history helps our geoscientists in our two regions work out the rates of mechanisms of climate change. This is but one example of how Exeter and Nanjing researchers are already working together in areas of innovative strength for both of our regions. And I know there is great potential for other areas of collaboration in the future.”

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