Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announces further developments in the relationship between Lancaster University and Guangdong Province.

The Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) began collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Science in Guandong Province 10 years ago and now jointly runs an International Research and Innovation Centre for the Environment (I-RICE) with the Guangzhou Insitute of Geochemistry.  

On a recent trip to China, Mr Willetts announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Lancaster University and the Guangdong Provincial Office of Science and Technology to increase partnerships between UK and Chinese technological companies through collaborative research projects.  

The MOU is part of the £5.1m Lancaster China Catalyst Programme involving LEC and other departments at Lancaster University, and aims to create programmes of innovation in small businesses to develop new products and services for export.

A partner of choice

Mr Willetts, who announced the MOU as one of a series of deals between UK and Chinese educational institutions, said: “In China, and around the globe, the market for education is growing rapidly. We are determined that our world-class universities should build on the UK’s position as the education partner of choice for China.

“These new partnerships are good for education and good for growth. They will ensure China and the UK have well-educated and trained young people, equipped to meet the opportunities and challenges of a globalised world.”

The Lancaster China Catalyst Project will involve up to 400 SMEs in a range of sectors including environmental technology, digital and creative, high-value manufacturing, novel materials, ICT, low carbon and transport sectors.It is expected to create 240 jobs in UK SMEs and generate £40 million for the economy. 

Focus on eco-innovation

Professor Kevin Jones, Head of the Lancaster Environment Centre, said: "We are delighted to see how this major new initiate has been fostered by LEC’s long standing partnerships with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Guangdong province. We look forward to seeing great benefits accruing to both UK and China business and enterprise through this collaboration.  

"Our specific interests in environmental protection and technologies, and eco-innovation, will be focal points of the new synergies between research and business that are being developed by this investment."

Andrew Atherton, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University said: “Lancaster has long-established links with China and we are strongly positioned to help develop greater relationships between businesses in both countries that will deliver mutual economic benefits.”

China's most prosperous region

Guangdong is located in south east China and is the most populated region in the country with more than 71 million residents. It is also China’s most prosperous region with a GDP similar to the Netherlands.

Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council who has helped fund the project, said: "Guangdong has a larger population than the UK, which makes this an exciting announcement. To create a strong economy in Lancashire, it's important to bring new investment and open up new opportunities, especially in global markets."

Other funding comes from HEFCE and SMEs. 

For more information contact Dr Ruth Alcock, Head of Enterprise and Business Partnerships at the Lancaster Environment Centre.