Up, up and away…!

By Shalini Singh, Administrative Officer at RCUK India

About to board the plane, with FAAM, NERC and Indian Scientists

About to board the plane, with FAAM, NERC and Indian Scientists

I boarded the plane on 26th June knowing that the highpoint of my trip to the UK would be to view Great Britain from greater heights; bigger and better than the London Eye could offer. It was a chance to venture out aboard the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Research Aircraft. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed to see an aircraft of this type, up close and personal for the first time. I was accompanying four Indian scientists, two colleagues from NERC and colleagues from the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM).

This visit by the Indian delegation was in follow-up to the UK-India Monsoon workshop held in February 2013, where India expressed an interest to see the UK Research Aircraft and the Data Management Centres. The focus was primarily on acquainting the Indian scientists with the practices of climate monitoring and data management developed and pursued by the UK scientists. Four scientists were shortlisted by India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to visit the UK facilities. I, along with our office Director, Dr Nafees Meah, lead on NERC projects and assignments, so I had the opportunity to accompany the Indian delegates to the UK for this week-long visit. The aim of this meeting was to share best practice among the UK-Indian participants and have discussions that would assist in shaping and sustaining present and future collaborations.

1000 feet above the English Channel

1000 feet above the English Channel

Launching cloud probes

Launching cloud probes

The second and third days were spent at FAAM, and we were warmly welcomed by the Head of FAAM Guy Gratton and his team. FAAM is collaboration between the Met Office and NERC, managed through the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). After a morning of presentations, we were taken to see the the aircraft. It was a real deal, seeing the colossus aircraft, glimpses of which I had only previously seen in pictures. It was fascinating and a great learning experience for me.

We had our flight planning and briefing before the actual take-off. Soon after a round of customary photos, outside and inside the plane, we flew from Cranfield at around 12.30pm with all the Star Trek kind of scientific equipment on board. The enthralling bit was when they let out the cloud probes for readings. It was a two-and-a-half hour flight and the plane was brought down to 1,000 ft above the English Channel, which was simply breath-taking. Then there was a chance to take that extraordinary view out of the cockpit and catch up with the pilots.

Super excited to be on a Research Plane!!!!

Super excited to be on a Research Plane!!!!

Two days were then devoted to NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Wallingford and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) in Didcot. CEH organised a visit to the Maharaja’s Well for us after the meetings. The Indian scientists found the visit to the data centres very useful and said they were impressed by how the UK data is managed. The most thrilling part of that day was the video wall (formed by 28 panels arranged in a 7 x 4 matrix) at the Visualisation Facilities.

The early bird catches the worm: engage now with EU Structural and Investment funding

By Professor Dave Delpy, Chief Executive of EPSRC and RCUK Impact Champion

 From 2014, EU Structural and Investment (S&I) funding will, for the first time, be available for investment in research and innovation across the whole of the UK.

Everyone is familiar with the ‘EC Structural Funds’ but many people may not be aware that from 2014, EU Structural and Investment (S&I) funding, which is what they are known by in the UK, will for the first time be available for investment in research and innovation across the whole of the UK. With a total pot of €9.6 billion available for the period 2014-2020, as RCUK we’re keen to encourage universities and research institutes to engage proactively with this funding stream.

For this reason RCUK, in partnership with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Universities UK, has written to all UK higher education institutions to highlight the opportunity to make use of existing higher education, research and innovation investments to leverage EU S&I funding.

While RCUK has a pan-UK remit, it’s important to note that the EU S&I funding for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be separately managed. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, institutions will engage through the respective local managing authorities (Scottish Enterprise, Welsh Assembly Government and DEL/DETI). In England the situation is far more complicated as institutions will have to engage with their Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to tap into this funding.

The funding will be focused on four national priorities:

  • innovation R&D
  • low carbon
  • SMEs
  • skills and economic inclusion. 

While there are clearly many opportunities to access this valuable source of funding within the ‘innovation R&D’ priority, those interested would do well to consider the remaining three, which may well bear fruit under closer inspection.

Currently, the three devolved nations are each producing Smart Specialisation Strategies which will set out their high-level plans for spending their allocation of EU S&I funding. In England, LEPs will be responsible for designing and delivering local strategies on how best to use this funding, meaning that early engagement with your local LEP now is vital in shaping how the funding will be directed. Each LEP has received a notional allocation from the funds, which must be spent in line with the four national priorities. More information on the background of these funds and how they will be administered for 2014-20 in England can be found in the preliminary guidance that has been issued to LEPs. Final guidance is currently expected shortly.

Although at an operational level, the responsibility to engage with LEPs lies with universities and institutes, RCUK is working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Technology Strategy Board, HEFCE and Universities UK on a high-level strategic approach to understand how to add value to UK investments by the appropriate use of EU S&I funding. We want to minimise the administrative burden to participants and ensure that where funds are used, the anticipated outcomes are aligned with national funders’ strategies, and do not impose unrealisable reporting requirements.

We know that universities, higher education colleges and public sector research establishments are all playing an important role in the Government’s economic growth agenda, but we want to explore how we might do even more. This is why we have asked institutions to share any feedback on the new arrangements. We would be interested specifically in hearing about any barriers you perceive that prevent the UK gaining full benefit from the availability of EU S&I funding. We’d like to know about how the new arrangements in England working with LEPs can be made to work effectively, but also broader UK comment on research and innovation alignment. Any ideas you may have concerning how best to address those barriers would also be welcome.

Feedback on the new arrangements for EU S&I funding can be sent to RCUK, UUK and HEFCE via EUStructuralFunds@rcuk.ac.uk by 14 July 2013.

With an ambition for 40 per cent of the funding to be spent on R&D, this is an exciting opportunity to access this newly expanded stream of funding. And in this instance, it looks like it really will be the early bird that catches the worm.

Sustainable cities and the challenges of urbanisation in India

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director, RCUK India

India has been described as a ‘reluctant urbaniser’. In 2001, the percentage of the population living in urban areas was estimated to be 28 per cent. Ten years later, it is little more than 30 per cent. This is despite the explosive growth of megacities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Nonetheless, there is an expectation that in the next decade or so, the rate of urbanisation will increase significantly. This is, in part, because increased urbanisation is a necessary condition for economic growth. Population trends for India show that there will be a substantial increase in working age population over the next 20 years and sustained economic growth will be necessary to generate new jobs in the manufacturing and services sectors.

Construction work in the outskirts of Delhi

Construction work in the outskirts of Delhi

McKinsey’s recent report, India’s urban awakening: Building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth, presented some startling indicators of the likely changes that will happen over the next 15-20 years:

  • 590 million will live in cities, nearly twice the population of the United States today
  • 270 million people net increase in working-age population
  • 70 per cent of net new employment will be generated in cities
  • 68 cities will have population of 1 million plus, up from 42 cities today
  • $1.2 trillion capital investment is necessary to meet projected demand in India’s cities
  • 700-900 million square meters of commercial and residential space needs to be built – or a new Chicago every year
  • 2.5 billion square meters of roads will have to be paved, 20 times the capacity added in the past decade
  • 7,400 kilometers of metros and subways will need to be constructed – 20 time the capacity.

These figures may appear daunting on first pass. However, we have the recent profound transformational change witnessed in China to hand which has experienced a very similar period of explosive growth of cities and development on a similar scale. Although the challenge is great, provided that it is addressed creatively it can be met.

India’s Planning Commission has observed that the pace of urbanization poses an unprecedented managerial and policy challenge. It noted that demand for key services such as water, transport, sewage treatment; low income housing will increase five to sevenfold in cities of every size and shape.

The unprecedented migration of people across India is resulting in its major cities becoming patchwork quilts of different communities living side by side (see UNICEF’s Overview of Internal Migration in India). According to India’s Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, almost a third of India’s population is made up of internal migrants. The integration of new populations, especially in urban areas, is a major issue, particularly given the lack of low income housing provision and basic services.

There are profound choices to be made in India over the next two decades. The sustainability of cities and/or sustainable urbanisation – whatever the definitions used – is a crucial consideration. Both real time knowledge of the urbanisation transition and knowledge how to manage this transition are going to be vitally important. The unprecedented demographic change also needs to be understood in terms of its cultural and historical impact. These are all areas where the academic community working in partnership with business and civil society groups can play an important part in defining the challenges and crafting the solutions appropriate for India.

India’s urban population will double by 2030

India’s urban population will double by 2030

Over recent years, the UK has become a thought-leader on the sustainability of cities and understanding urbanization transitions around the world. Much of this thought leadership has derived from the research commissioned by the individual Councils which have funded programmes on: ICT and internet of things, low carbon cities, water and energy resource management, urban health, demographic transitions and urban poverty alleviation. Later this year, RCUK India will be organising a roundtable which will bring together leading academics, policy makers and thought leaders from the UK and India to discuss and identify key R&D issues focusing on the areas of:

  • Sustainability and urbanisation
  • Smart cities and the urban ecosystem in India
  • Integrating provision of water, waste and energy services
  • Urbanization and delivery of effective health services
  • Changing idea of the city in Indian culture
  • Achieving inclusivity in the face of rapid demographic change

UK-India Partnership: Manufacturing and the Low Carbon Future

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director, RCUK India

 

A contented India fan at the ICC Championships, Edgbaston last week.

A contented India fan at the ICC Championships, Edgbaston last week.

Manufacturing is undergoing a renaissance in Britain.  It may come as a surprise to some, but the UK is at the leading edge of research and innovation in manufacturing technologies.   The UK is also at the forefront of research and development on how we can transform our energy systems, in particular, electricity generation and distribution systems, to be more efficient and low-carbon.

High-value manufacturing processes are increasingly moving towards flexible, intelligent production systems that involve the inter-play of novel technologies, advanced materials and precision engineered products and systems. Modern manufacturing is more than merely production – it encompasses R&D, design, prototyping, production, distribution, service and supports provision, and end-of-life repair, recycle or reuse.  The objective of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) Manufacturing the Future challenge theme is to create, capture and accelerate the benefits from groundbreaking research for future UK manufacturing. Manufacturing businesses compete in international markets, and their supply chains and competitors are often global.  As research also performs within a global context, there is considerable scope and need to increase the alignment between global research and global manufacturing.

Likewise, with more and more intermittent renewable electricity generation, particularly wind and solar, coming on stream, a global research effort is needed to develop smart grids and energy storage technologies to secure our low carbon futures.

These two areas are also vitally important for India as it seeks to go up the value chain and create new jobs and industries and also to increase the contribution of renewables in its energy mix.  Since 2008, the research partnership between the UK and India in areas of mutual interests has gone from strength to strength.  This was highlighted last week by the announcement of 12 new research collaborations in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing and Smart Energy Grids and Energy Storage. A full list of projects is available here.

The new research was announced by David Willetts, the UK’s Science Minister, during the India Business Day Conference at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham, against the backdrop of the ICC International Championships. This research is funded by EPSRC in the UK and India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST.)

A very important aspect of this research is that it involves over 30 industry partners from the UK and India, contributing over £1 million to the research projects. Partners include: Rolls-Royce, Bharat Heavy Electricals, E.ON, National Grid and Mott Macdonald.  This ensures that research is relevant to industry and the outputs get to be used – an important consideration for us in these times when we need to grow our way out of recession.

We at RCUK India are proud to have played our part in getting these major new research initiatives, which will have a major impact in years to come, off the ground.

 

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology visit India

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India.

I joined Professor Mark Bailey, the Director of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), and Professor Alan Jenkins, the Deputy Director, on their recent travels around India.  They had taken five days out of their very busy schedules to come to India. CEH is a NERC Centre of Excellence and also a world leading centre for integrated research into ecosystems and biodiversity.  It works in partnership with the research community, policy makers, industry and society to deliver solutions to the most complex environmental challenges facing the world.   The reason why both Mark and Alan came was to raise the profile of CEH in India and to seek to establish institutional partnerships with high quality research institutes in India in the fields of hydrology and water resource management, ecosystem services and landscape ecology.  The RCUK India team was, therefore, very pleased to organise a pretty intensive itinerary for the two Professors which took in policy makers and researchers in Delhi, Bangalore and Roorkee.  It seemed like planes, trains and automobiles all over again.

There was considerable interest shown at the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) at Roorkee in working in partnership with CEH.  Indeed, it was more of a case of re-establishing a relationship that had been very strong at one time as the Institute had been modelled (when it was founded in 1978) on the UK’s national hydrology centre before it amalgamated with the ecologists to form CEH in the recent past.  Indeed Dr S K Jain from NIH explained some of the fascinating history of the Roorkee site (which is also home to an Indian Institute of Technology or IIT) and the role that the British played in channelling the Ganges through huge engineering projects to provide water for irrigation for the whole region.  An engineering college had been established in the 1850s to provide trained personnel to help build the water management and irrigation systems.

Water resources, or more precisely, water scarcity, remains a big problem in India and has rightly been identified as one of the two absolutely critical issues that have to be addressed in the Twelfth Five Year Plan (the other being energy).  CEH has world leading expertise in the understanding of river flows, the basic science for understanding floods and droughts and the likely impact of climate change on fresh water systems.  As a result, there was much discussion of potential areas of collaboration between the two institutes.  It was agreed that further meetings and exchanges would be very useful to prioritise the areas of potential collaboration.

In Bangalore, there was a series of meetings with researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and at the Ashoka Trust for Research into Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).   An issue identified through discussion was the possibility of developing partnership between the UK and India on an integrated soils research programme to better understand the changes that are happening through intensification of agriculture, deforestation, impact of water scarcity,  increasing salinity of groundwater and, of course, climate change on soil structure, microbiology and quality.   A much better understanding of soils and what is happening to soil quality is needed if India is to deliver on its food security goals in the future as its population and, therefore, demand for foodstuffs increases.   In a discussion with Professor Vinod Gaur, it was proposed that a fruitful next step would be to organise a joint India-UK workshop on the topic with a view to establishing a Joint Indo-UK Centre.   As well as soils, another area of potential collaboration was in developing the hydrological modelling aspect in a system called JULES which is used by the UK’s Met Office in its Earth System climate models to take into account land surface and atmosphere interactions.  India currently uses the Met Office climate models as well as US climate models for its weather and climate predictions.

Both Mark and Alan were keen to stress that theirs was very much an exploratory visit to see whether there was an opportunity for CEH working more closely in partnership with Indian researchers and institutes.  There is no doubt now that this will be the first of many exchanges between CEH scientists and their Indian counterparts.

Professor Alan Jenkins (left), Dr S K Jain (centre) and Professor Mark Bailey (right) at the National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee.

Professor Alan Jenkins (left), Dr S K Jain (centre) and Professor Mark Bailey (right) at the
National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee.

 

UK- India research and innovation collaboration gets big fillip from PM summit

(Photo courtesy: www.ukinindia.fco.gov.uk) UK Prime Minister David Cameron and India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India.

This has been a truly tremendous week for the Indo-UK research partnership.  UK Prime Minister David Cameron came to India on 18th February with the largest business and academic delegation ever to accompany a British Prime Minister.  That’s not counting four Ministers and a cross-party group of British Parliamentarians who also accompanied him.

Eleven UK University Vice Chancellors came not only to talk about the UK offer in Higher Education but also to launch a whole series of institution-to-institution partnerships cementing further the research links between the UK and India.  Universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Warwick and Cardiff all had major announcements to make on new partnerships.

The icing on the cake for the RCUK India team, however, was the extensive reference to the joint research programmes that we have set up with our Indian partners over the last four years, in the Summit Communiqué.   This states that [PMs Cameron and Singh] welcomed the rapid expansion of India-UK research and development cooperation which is helping to generate and develop high quality and high impact research partnerships leading to new knowledge creation.   Since RCUK India opened in 2008, the value of the co-funded research partnership has gone from less than £1 million to over £100 million and is still rising.  This is a reflection of both the strength of the UK and Indian research bases but also that crucial, global issues are being addressed through ground breaking research – renewable and other forms of energy, food security, climate change, water management, advanced engineering  – are key to the future prosperity of both countries.  Research collaboration is seen by both countries as a lynchpin, bringing us closer together.

It’s not only in the areas of physical sciences that we have established a very successful partnership, but also in the area of social sciences, arts and the humanities. India with its population of 1.2 billion undergoing rapid transition from a rural to a more urbanized society is going to be a fascinating place to study to learn about how and why these transitions happen and the cultural dimension of this rapid change.

We highlighted a series of new and ongoing programmes and initiatives; more information is available in our press note here.

There was an excellent meeting between our Science Minister, David Willets, and his Indian counterpart, Shri S Jaipal Reddy at which both said how much they welcomed the intensification of the relationship on research between the two countries.  David Willets highlighted eight technology areas of interest to the UK for international collaboration.  These were: the big data revolution and energy efficient computing; satellite technology; robotics and autonomous vehicles; synthetic biology; regenerative medicine; agri-science; advanced materials and nanotechnology; and energy storage.

It looks like we are going to be very busy…

UK must not close its doors to skilled researchers

By Dr Sophie Laurie, Head of RCUK International.

Last August the Government asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the shortage occupation list; occupations where the UK currently lacks skilled workers. Usually, employers recruiting outside the EEA are required to complete a test to demonstrate that there is no suitable settled worker, but this requirement is waived for occupations on the list. The UK maintains its well-deserved reputation as a global research leader in a number of ways, and the ability to attract the best international talent is essential, particularly in areas where we currently lack sufficient home-grown highly skilled researchers.

 One of the review’s proposals is that that all occupations and job titles which have been on the shortage occupation list for longer than two years should be removed. At present, many of the research areas where we need a reliable and uncomplicated migratory route are included on the shortage occupation list, but this could all change if the MAC upholds this recommendation when it reports on 31 January.

 As RCUK we work closely with the UK research community to identify current and emerging skills gaps and to ensure that the right support and investment goes into addressing them. But it’s simply not possible to create a highly trained researcher in two years. In fact, we estimate that it takes 7-8 years to progress from gaining a PhD to the first steps in an independent career. Add A levels, an undergraduate degree and the PhD itself to that and it’s clear that only long-term action can help us ‘grow our own’ researchers. While we’re building capacity, it is of course vital that the UK doesn’t drop behind our global competitors and, to avoid this happening, it’s essential that the Government’s immigration policy enables the Research Councils to attract and retain the best international talent via a flexible approach.

 The automatic removal of key occupations from the shortage list after two years risks shutting down the UK’s ability to participate in emerging research fields. Closing the door in the face of those immigrants – geoscientists, biostatisticians, informatics specialists to name but a few – whose skills can benefit the UK so greatly, would surely be cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

 The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) recently wrote to Immigration Minister Mark Harper to make the case for protecting these vital immigration routes into the UK for key research staff, a letter to which RCUK gave our formal support. We therefore hope that the Government will maintain its valued commitment to research by making sure any changes to the shortage occupation list do not have an adverse effect on the UK.

India’s new 12th Five Year Plan – Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth

By Dr Nafees Meah, Director RCUK India.

The Planning Commission in India has been producing Five Year Plans since 1951.  These Plans set the strategic direction for the Government of India for the following five years.  In December 2012, the Planning Commission published the near final draft 12th Five Year Plan – Faster, More Inclusive and Sustainable Growth  Simultaneous achievement of these elements is seen as crucial for the success of the Plan.  The 12th Plan says that ‘[it] must be guided by a vision of India moving forward in a way that would ensure a broad-based improvement in living standards of all sections of the people through a growth process which is faster than in the past, more inclusive and also more environmentally sustainable’

Thus the 12th Plan calls for more attention to be given to problem of sustainability. It states that ‘No development process can afford to neglect the environmental consequences of economic activity, or allow unsustainable depletion and deterioration of natural resources’ and several chapters are devoted to the issues of water, land use, environment, forestry and wildlife.   

There is wide ranging discussion of how India should deal with the effects of climate change whilst an international agreement to tackle this issue remains to be reached.  The National Action Plan for climate change has evolved with eight component missions and implementation of these missions is seen as an integral part of the 12th Plan.  

The Plan is a substantial document in three volumes.  The first volume is an overarching document (the second and third volumes look in more detail at the economic and social sectors respectively).  Of particular interest to UK scientists is the extensive discussion and description of the scientific and technical challenges facing India.  Thus Chapter Four on Sustainable Development summarises the findings of the Expert Group on Low Carbon Strategies.  One of the interesting things in the Plan is the renewed interest in wind power.  Chapter Five on Water sets out the daunting challenges faced by Indian society and economy.  Water tables are falling and this comes at a time of rapid industrialising economy and urbanising society.  Climate change, of course, poses new challenges with its effects on the hydrological cycle.  It asserts that there is a need for a paradigm shift in the management of water resources in India.  Chapter Five on Environment, Forestry and Wildlife posits a new set of targets to be monitored covering, inter alia, environment and climate change, forests and livelihoods and ecosystem and biodiversity. 

Finally, science and technology is recognised as playing a critical role in the delivery of the 12th Plan.  There is an ambition to increase investment in in R&D from 1% to 2% of GDP.  Chapter Eight sets out the plans for the six major science Ministries and all see a substantial increase in funding.  Specific focus areas for the 12th Plan are: a) Enrichment of Knowledge Base – the aim is to position some of its R&D institutions in the top 50 in the world; b) Human Resource Development and University Interaction – a radical transformation of the science education system to improve the quality of S&T education and research at university level; c) Aligning S&T to Development Needs – to develop solutions to issues that are important for the country’s development goals, particularly in areas of energy, water, sanitation, farm production, health care, waste disposal, computing and communications, and e-infrastructure.

If the ambition of investing 2% of GDP on R&D is achieved and the quality of its research base is improved, then India, by virtue of its size is likely to be one of the most important scientific nations in the world.  What is certain is that India faces a host of challenges where capacity and capability in S&T and an innovation system that translates knowledge into solutions is going to be crucial.  All in all, an interesting read.

RCUK celebrated five years of UK-China research success

By Dr Alicia Greated, Director RCUK China.

This week over 100 UK and Chinese delegates attended the event ‘RCUK China – Five Years and Beyond’ in Beijing, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of RCUK China. Delegates heard about current successful RCUK-China collaborations and contributed to discussions to scope future areas for collaborative RCUK-China activity. A UK delegation of 23 key research figures, including representatives from all seven UK Research Councils and leading academics, travelled to China to take part in the event.  Representatives from a range Chinese funding organisations, leading Chinese research institutions, and UK organisations based in China also actively contributed to the day’s discussions.

Major new investments were announced which will build on RCUK China’s success and ensure that the UK and China remain at the cutting edge of science and innovation.

 The British Ambassador to China, Sebastian Wood, announced that leading UK energy scientists have received £4million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with matched resources from the NSFC, to work in partnership with researchers in China to develop better smart grid technology and to help both countries reduce their carbon footprint. In addition a new multi-million pound joint collaboration between RCUK and the NSFC in smart grids and the integration of electric vehicles was announced by Professor Rick Rylance (Chair of RCUK) and Professor Ding (NSFC).

 This brings the RCUK commitment to UK-China energy research alone to over £24million, with matched funding from Chinese partners.

David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: “The UK’s relationship with China is extremely valuable in driving research and innovation. By co-operating in this way, both countries can enjoy more of the benefits that high-quality scientific research brings, including economic growth and a better quality of life. The new investments announced today will help to ensure that the partnership between our two countries goes from strength to strength.”

 Since its launch in 2007, RCUK China has supported a range of activities to promote UK-China research collaborations and the team has also helped developed a significant multi-million pound programme of joint funding activities with key research funders in China in areas including healthcare, social sciences, food security and energy. Professor Paul Boyle, RCUK’s International Champion, said: “International cooperation is a fundamental part of enhancing and stimulating the research we support in the UK, and China is a highly valued and important partner for us. RCUK China was the first overseas RCUK office and we are very excited about the great opportunities for building partnerships with our Chinese colleagues over the next five years.”