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Chancellor pledges £3.4m for projects with China

The UK and China will make two joint research investments in energy and medical science, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

Osborne made the announcement on 17 January while visiting Beijing.

The investment in energy efficiency will be made jointly by Research Councils UK’s energy programme, which will contribute £3 million from its existing budget, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, which will invest around £310,000 per project.

The funding will go to three to four collaborative research projects on smart grids. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which runs the RCUK energy programme, says it will publish a call for proposals later this week.

The other joint project, which involves the Medical Research Council and the NSFC, is intended to fund about 10-12 UK-Chinese collaborative projects on stem-cell research. The MRC will invest up to £400,000 for UK applicants in the project while the NSFC will contribute £360,000 for Chinese researchers.

The MRC said in a statement that the collaboration might be extended to lead to “substantive” stem-cell research programmes between the two countries.

An MRC spokeswoman confirmed that the money is going to come from the council’s existing budget. She added the idea had come through a series of workshops in both China and the UK.

“The UK has ambitious plans to engage with China on a range of research projects,” said Osborne in a statement. “I consider the programmes that I announced today as key in fostering closer scientific, technological and engineering links with China.”

The funding is separate to the joint fund for UK and Chinese research projects that was announced at the end of last year in the government’s Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth. RC UK is working with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology on setting up the fund.