Uni helping to boost UK-China trade links

Andrew Atherton.
Andrew Atherton.

Lancaster University has been selected by the Government to help strengthen Britain’s business links with China.

The Prime Minister David Cameron recently paid a high-profile visit to the country in a bid to shore-up trade ties.

He was joined by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, who has now announced a series of deals it is hoped will benefit British firms.

Among them is experts at Lancaster University signing a five-year “memorandum of understanding” with the Guangdong Provincial Office of Science and Technology, building on work already under way.

It outlines aims by both parties to increase the level of working between UK and Chinese technological companies through joint research to better market new products and services for global markets.

Andrew Atherton, deputy vice chancellor at Lancaster University, said: “It is fantastic that Lancaster University’s work to establish greater links between businesses in the UK and China has received ministerial approval.

“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.”

Both organisations are already working together on two programmes - the International Research and Innovation Centre for the Environment (IRICE), and the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme.

The latter was part-funded by Lancashire County Council and aims to help small businesses develop new products and services for export.

It involves up to 400 small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) across the environmental technology, digital and creative, high-value manufacturing, novel materials, ICT, low carbon and transport sectors.

The scheme is predicted to create more than 240 jobs within UK SMEs and generate £40 million for the economy following investment of just over £5.1m.

Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, 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.”

With more than 71 million residents, the south east Guangdong region is China’s most-populated.

And it is also the country’s most prosperous, with a GDP similar to that of Holland.