Bri­tish fund will lure Chi­nese re­searchers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­GUS MCNEICE in London an­gus@mail.chi­nadai­

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has set up a 100 mil­lion pound ($130.6 mil­lion) re­search fund to at­tract global tal­ent, with China iden­ti­fied as one of the key re­cruit­ment pools.

The Ernest Ruther­ford Fund, which takes its name from the nu­clear physi­cist and No­bel lau­re­ate, was estab­lished by the Depart­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy & In­dus­trial Strat­egy as part of the gov­ern­ment’s 1 bil­lion pound in­dus­trial strat­egy laid out in April.

“At the 2016 au­tumn state­ment, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in pub­lic re­search and de­vel­op­ment spend­ing, to­tal­ing 4.7 bil­lion pounds,” said Jo John­son, the UK’s uni­ver­si­ties and science min­is­ter. “In her vi­sion for the UK as the go-to place for sci­en­tists, in­no­va­tors and tech in­vestors, Prime Min­is­ter (Theresa) May has made clear she wants us to be a coun­try that at­tracts the bright­est and best minds.”

John­son said the fund will be used to at­tract “highly skilled” early-ca­reer, and se­nior re­searchers. The gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied “emerg­ing re­search pow­er­houses”, in­clud­ing China, In­dia, Brazil, and Mex­ico, as key re­cruit­ment pools.

The UK pub­lishes 16 per- cent of the world’s most heav­ily cited pa­pers, de­spite hav­ing only 1 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion and 3 per­cent of global fund­ing for such re­search pa­pers. Al­most half of re­search ar­ti­cles pub­lished by Bri­tish re­searchers have in­ter­na­tional co-au­thors.

The fund is be­ing ad­min­is­tered by In­no­vate UK and Re­search Coun­cils UK un­til a new body, UK Re­search and In­vest­ment, is formed in 2018.

“We see the Ruther­ford Fund as an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther help early-ca­reer as well as se­nior re­searchers in China to es­tab­lish and so­lid­ify their pro­fes­sional and per­sonal con­nec­tions in the UK,” said Grace Lang, di­rec­tor of Re­search Coun­cils UK China. “China’s share of global science and engi­neer­ing pub­li­ca­tions is in­creas­ing. We hope re­searchers in China will ben­e­fit from this fund­ing op­por­tu­nity to gain in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence and more re­searcher-to-re­searcher links can be formed, con­tribut­ing to a well-con­nected in­ter­na­tional re­search and in­no­va­tion com­mu­nity.”

Since the re­search coun­cil’s China of­fice was set up in Bei­jing in 2007, it has co-funded 222 mil­lion pounds of joint pro­grams with sev­eral Chi­nese fund­ing agen­cies, cov­er­ing a range of re­search ar­eas.

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