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UK at forefront of global R&D collaboration with £79m investment


UK at forefront of global R&D collaboration with £79m investment

Advanced crop breeding, tackling infectious disease and clean energy technologies are just three areas where the UK will partner with world-leading collaborators to push boundaries and meet 21st century challenges.

These are part of a £79 million investment in international projects announced today Tuesday 22 January 2019, that will see UK researchers and innovators working with their counterparts across the globe.

Projects announced include:

  • a project bringing together international climate and health researchers to ensure we are globally prepared to manage the health risks posed by climate change
  • a collaboration between UK and Indian scientists to tackle antimicrobial resistance in the environment, such as from pharmaceutical industrial sources
  • a programme developed with the Smithsonian Institution in the USA to explore how digital technology can open up the collections of leading museums to a global audience.

The projects, supported through the Fund for International Collaboration and delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), involve collaborators from 17 lead countries.

The Fund aims to enhance the UK’s excellence in research and innovation through global engagement, forging new bilateral and multilateral research and innovation programmes with global partners.

Science and Universities minister Chris Skidmore, said: “The UK has a reputation for globally influential research and innovation, and is at the centre of a web of global collaboration – showing that science has no borders.

“We have a strong history of partnering with other countries – over 50% of UK authored research involves collaborations with international partners.

“The projects being announced today reinforce our commitment to enhance the UK’s excellence in innovation at home and around the world, driving high-skilled jobs, economic growth and productivity as part of the modern Industrial Strategy.”

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “From tackling climate change to preventing and treating infectious diseases, the search for knowledge is a global endeavour that requires collaboration between the world’s best minds.

“The Fund for International Collaboration and the creation of twelve global research hubs demonstrate the commitment of the UK to ensuring our researchers and innovators can work with their counterparts across the world to address important questions.”

The Fund for International Collaboration has been announced alongside a £200 million investment in 12 UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Hubs, which will work with governments, international agencies and NGOs on the ground in developing countries and around the globe, to address some of the most complex development challenges.

Further projects will be announced through the Fund for International Collaboration in due course.

Summaries of the projects

Arts and Humanities Research Council

UK-US Collaboration for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions: Reimagining the Future of the World's Leading Museums (USA) will facilitate new partnerships in digital scholarship between world-leading museums and cultural institutions in the UK and US. It seeks to scale-up existing collaborations and establish new partnerships to explore how best to digitise collections and apply new digital research methods and technology for large-scale computational research.

UKRI support: £7.5 million

UK-China Creative Industries Collaboration (China) will strengthen creative economies in the UK and China – specifically China’s cultural capital Shanghai – by bringing together academic and industry partners in both countries. The project will facilitate large-scale research and innovation collaborations in areas such as screen industries, video games, theatre and performance and creative design to deliver economic and cultural growth.

UKRI support: £5 million

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

UK-USA Breakthrough Technologies to Advance Crop Breeding (USA) supports the development of breakthrough technologies to breed next generation crops to increase productivity, improve food security and lessen environmental impact. Key modern technologies can accelerate outcomes in this area by using advanced genome editing.

UKRI support: £2 million

Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (USA/Israel) will bring medical, veterinary, social and environmental sciences to understand disease emergence and transmission and provide new insights into the drivers and control of infectious diseases and improved strategies to control or prevent infectious diseases.

UKRI support: £2.1 million

Economic and Social Research Council

The Trans-Atlantic Platform Call on Social Innovation (Canada) is providing the opportunity for collaborative research proposals on the topic of “social innovation” and brings together funding organisations from Canada, Brazil, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland. The Social Innovation Call for Proposals supports research in areas such as social inclusion, inclusive growth, wellbeing and public service delivery.

UKRI support: £1.5 million

Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council

The ESRC-AHRC UK-Japan SSH Connections Call (Japan) aims to improve the connectivity between UK and Japanese social science, arts and humanities research communities through funding for groups of researchers to make new connections and identify common interests to enable future collaborative research activity. New joint research agendas between the best researchers in both countries will ultimately enhance the volume and strength of UK-Japanese partnerships in the social sciences and humanities.

UKRI support: £1.5 million

Innovate UK

UK-Israel Joint Innovation Programme (Israel) supports business-led innovation collaboration by joining forces with the Israeli Innovation Authority in areas of production and market access. It is developing and strengthening UK-Israel commercial relationships, providing access to large markets and enhancing business competitiveness and growth.

UKRI support: £2.1 million

Supporting business-led multilateral collaboration through the EUREKA framework (Multilateral: 44 countries including South Korea, Canada, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway and potentially Japan, Australia and Singapore) will grow business-led collaboration on research and innovation with global partners under the EUREKA framework. The breadth of supply chain is well covered across the membership, making the framework particularly compelling from a UK perspective.

UKRI support: £10.4 million

Delivering Disruptive Industrial Research and Innovation between the UK and Canada to access global markets (Canada) will look at additive manufacturing, clean energy technologies, food processing, advanced materials, bio-refinery including circular waste solutions, and digital manufacturing. It will allow UK business to co-develop and supply innovative goods and services into larger companies in Canada, enabling UK companies to increase their own technological abilities and productivity.

UKRI support: £5 million

Medical Research Council

MRC-KHIDI UK-Korea Dementia Research Call 2019 (South Korea): The MRC and Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) will support joint Korean and UK projects focused on the prevention, diagnosis and/or treatment of dementia. Research projects will study one or more types of dementia, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, vascular dementia and Huntington’s disease.

UKRI support: £600,000

Natural Environment Research Council and Medical Research Council

Climate, Environment and Health (Multilateral through the Belmont Forum) will provide new knowledge, evidence for action, and tools to enable health systems globally to prepare for and manage population health risks and benefits associated with climate change and variability. This programme will support community building of required networks of researchers and implementation partners and identify the critical knowledge gaps in the pathways from climate to health where new research is needed.

UKRI support: £3.5 million, of which £2.8 million is provided through the FIC

Natural Environment Research Council

Tackling AMR in the Environment (India) will develop global wastewater and environment regulations to tackle AMR focussing on pharmaceutical, industrial and wastewater pathways. Research will focus on the situation in India, as a major producer of antibiotics in the global supply chain of UK-based pharmaceutical companies.

UKRI support: £3.5 million

Natural Environment Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Delivering Healthy Soils: Signals in the Soil (USA) will develop new solutions for delivering healthy and resilient soils to improve food security, climate change mitigation and public health. This programme will use the UK-US community to co-design an approach that integrates basic soil science research with new sensor, network, and data approaches to transform understanding of soil health through research and monitoring capability.

UKRI support: £8.3 million


UKRI-JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) Joint Call (Japan) supports globally leading and innovative collaborative research projects in Life Sciences and Environmental Sciences, offering access to facilities, knowledge and supporting UK universities and researchers to develop long-lasting partnerships with centres of excellence.

UKRI support: £5.2 million

Science and Technology Facilities Council

Gravitational wave R&D (USA) The Nobel Prize winning detection of gravitational waves relied heavily on advanced engineering developed in the UK and funded by UKRI and its predecessors over decades, The gravitational wave research community, again led by researchers, engineers and technicians in the UK, want to improve the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories (LIGO), both in the United States and the follow-on UKRI-funded LIGO India. The UK will provide £11 million over five years subject to further discussion with international funding agencies.

UKRI support: £11.2 million

AIT-Watchman (USA) The Advanced Instrumentation Testbed (AIT) is a joint UK-US project to harness existing particle physics research techniques to remotely monitor nuclear reactors. Expected to be operational from 2022, the project will measure the harmless sub-atomic particles called antineutrinos that are emitted by existing nuclear power plants 25 kilometres away. The project, based at the Boulby Underground Laboratory in North Yorkshire, will test whether the technique could be scaled up for more distant monitoring of nuclear sites. Physicists will work with national defence and security agencies on the project, which could have non-proliferation applications.

UKRI support: £9.7 million

Notes to Editors

For further information contact James Giles-Franklin, UKRI Media Manager, 07808 878276 or email the UKRI Press Team.

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