A NEW hub for Chinese language and culture could help local firms to forge new trade links in China.
That was the view of Clive Drinkwater, the regional director for UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) North West, following a visit to the Confucius Institute at Lancaster University.
Mr Drinkwater was there to learn about the institute’s work and talk about business engagement.
The institute, launched in December 2011, complements extensive China research and teaching across the university and was awarded to Lancaster and its partner, the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou by the Office of Chinese Language Council International.
Language teaching to university staff, students and primary school children is already in the pipeline and the institute is also committed to developing programmes which are adapted to support innovation, management and sustainable development in the North West.
But speaking at the meeting with representatives from China-related research groups across the university, Mr Drinkwater spoke of the potential for some of the 7,000 export companies in the region to open up new markets in China.
The institute now wants to hear from regional businesses with an interest in China to discuss potential collaboration.
Mr Drinkwater said: “I want to see more of our region’s firms taking advantage of opportunities in fast growing economies such as China, India and Brazil.
“I see Lancaster University as one of the key ways in which we can enable more businesses to do that.
“I know how many small and medium sized enterprises would benefit from working with their universities. Lancaster has been reaching out to business for a long time and I want to encourage businesses to take that leap, to engage with universities and find out what they can do for them.”
Institute director, Dr Qihai Huang, said: “Together with other departments in the university, we are very keen to work with UKTI and our local business community on the enterprise agenda.
“During our meeting we had fruitful discussions about how we could collaborate more closely to facilitate local businesses to engage with China and explore and develop business opportunities in the fast-growing Chinese market.”
The meeting will be followed by workshops on Doing Business in China held by the institute and the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development at Lancaster University Management School. , with the first due to be held in June.