British Council/NSFC Newton Early Career Researcher Workshop: A review
January 25, 2017
Professor Phil Coates recently facilitated a workshop in China aimed at helping Early Career Researchers forge new collaborations in healthcare technologies for aging populations. Here is his review of the activities and outcomes from the meeting:
“It has been a delight to see our Early Career Researcher attendees share expertise and look so fervently for new collaborations in healthcare technologies for ageing populations, a crucial area to both China and the UK. I now have over 20 excellent bids to review for the 8 Researcher Exchanges we are providing at £1.8k each through the Polymer IRC at the University of Bradford and our EPSRC MeDe Centre of Innovative Manufacturing in Medical Devices. I know that a range of other outcomes (including joint grant bids and other co-operations such as sharing materials and facilities) are being pursued.
I believe that this Workshop exceeds all of the expectations of the Newton scheme in building research capacity and collaborations – and of course we are grateful for the support for the Researcher Exchanges, which give such an opportunity for concrete outcomes in the next 9 months. I have already received very appreciative feedback from many ECR attendees, anda Prof Hesheng Xia, my co-PI for this Workshop wrote “ they not only shared each other with their excellent work, but also indeed worked a lot to create the innovative ideas based on their research strength. Phil carried a bag of ideas to UK. Those ideas are our future!” That is so true – and we are strongly committed to the next generations of researchers and leaders.
I am also most grateful to the mentors in China (Prof Hesheng Xia, Prof Li Guangxian, and Prof Lin Ye) and the UK (Prof Anant Paradkar and Dr Pete Twigg) plus the excellent support from Dr Ben Whiteside, co-Director of our Joint International Laboratory with Sichuan University. Prof Xia’s team showed us the height of the warmth and generosity of unbeatable Sichuan hospitality – the impact on all of us was a key part of the success of this event, and all of us say a heartfelt thank you to Hesheng and Zhanhua Wang and their team. All of us are also very grateful to Xiaolei Wang, my International Programme Manager at Bradford, who worked so hard to make this a success, overcoming many hurdles! It was so heartening to have the substantial input of leading Chinese researchers from our UK-China AMRI platform as additional mentors, supplementing the Newton funding, namely Prof Liqun Zhang (BUCT), Prof Jiwen Zhang (SIMMCAS), Prof Yongfeng Men (our Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellow; CIACCAS), Prof Dong Qui (ICCAS), Profs Qi Wang and Chuhong Zhang (SKLPME Sichuan). Such support shows the strength of commitment of the leaders of our Science Bridges China platform to our mission, which I deeply appreciate. We also celebrated the signing of the launch of our new Beijing University of Chemical Technology – University of Bradford Joint International Laboratory for Soft Matter Technologies, co-directed by Prof Liqun Zhang and myself; this adds to the Joint Laboratory for Polymer Process Physics we launched last year with Prof Men in Changchun CIACCAS, and the original (2010 onwards) Polymer MicroProcessing Laboratory with Sichuan. In our UK-China AMRI Board meeting, also held during the Workshop, we discussed industrial sponsorship to add to the opportunities for even more outcomes from our activities.
It is increasingly true that our original Science Bridges platform has really become People Bridges – the key way to success! Thank you to all of you for contributing to this; we will continue to build upon it.”