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Research Councils launch strategy to boost global reach

From groundbreaking research on rapid climate change to the design of the world’s first sustainable city, the UK’s research community has an excellent record of working on some of the most important and innovative international research programmes in the world. Research Councils UK is set to build on this already impressive international reach with its first international strategy, encompassing all research disciplines.

Ian Pearson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said, “International collaboration is vital – we should be working with other countries in order to promote scientific excellence on a global scale.

“Collaboration with other countries will help us continue to develop world class science here in Great Britain, as well as helping build the scientific capacity of other nations.

“A recent study showed that almost 40 per cent of UK scientific output over the last five years involved international collaboration - a fifty per cent increase compared with the previous five years.

“By providing a coordinated approach to international research, RCUK will be able to make the UK more visible and attractive as a research partner for organisations, research teams and individuals from all over the world.”

The new strategy will promote the movement of researchers between countries and encourage more collaboration between UK researchers and their colleagues from around the world. It also plans to give our researchers the best access to data, facilities and resources and promote the UK as a world centre for research and innovation. The strategy also explains how the Research Councils aim to influence the global research agenda and ensure that UK and international priorities are aligned.

RCUK’s strategy highlights some of the Research Councils’ international engagement. These include:

•The Natural Environment Research Council’s RAPID programme, which brings together a community of researchers from the UK, USA, Germany, The Netherlands and Norway to improve our understanding of rapid climate change.

•A scholarship scheme jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council that enables researchers to work with an international community of scholars at the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library in Washington DC

•Through its membership of the European Southern Observatory, the Science & Technology Facilities Council will enable UK researchers to play a major role in the Atacama Large Millimetre Array, one of the largest ground-based astronomy projects in the world.

•Bilateral arrangements between the Economic and Social Research Council and overseas funders to compare UK and Australian data on the effect of crime on mental health.

•Networks funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to discuss research challenges arising from the construction of Dongtan, the world’s first sustainable city, near Shanghai.

Speaking on behalf of the Research Councils UK, Professor Ian Diamond said, “The Research Councils are striving to tackle the challenges that face today’s society. We can best achieve this by removing obstacles to international collaboration and by sharing facilities and data. Working closely together through the RCUK partnership, we can accelerate this process.”

Julia Short | alfa
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