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06/11/13 10:54

Scotland and Hong Kong to share research expertise

First Minister witnesses new agreement on energy and life sciences.

First Minister Alex Salmond has welcomed a new agreement that will see university researchers in Scotland and Hong Kong share cutting-edge expertise in life sciences and energy.

The First Minister witnessed the signing of a framework agreement in Hong Kong between the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to bring teams from higher education institutes in both areas together and explore innovative new ways of working together.

Mr Salmond said the agreement would allow the world-leading Scottish research sector to share knowledge in a key overseas investment market, building on Scotland’s reputation for innovation and excellence in the life sciences and energy sectors.

The agreement was signed on the fourth day of the First Minister’s trade mission to China, which has already seen the signing of Sino-Scottish partnership deals worth £40 million and an agreement for Heriot Watt to become Scotland’s fifth Confucius Institute, focused on Chinese business and communication.

Speaking from Hong Kong the First Minister said:

“Scotland is home to some of the best universities in the world, and is at the forefront of higher education when it comes to research, with more citations per head of population that anywhere else in the world.

“I am delighted that today’s agreement will bring the benefits of Scotland’s world-leading reputation for excellence in higher education to Hong Kong. It sends a clear message that Scotland and Hong Kong are working closely together, with life sciences and energy industries being examples of two industries that stand to gain from our close partnership.

“The framework agreement is part of Scotland’s strategy to widen and deepen our links, share our expertise and develop new partnerships with Hong Kong as we both seek to promote sustainable economic growth.

“It will allow researchers from Scottish universities to work with their counterparts in a key overseas investment market, building on Scotland’s reputation for excellence in innovation in sectors such as life sciences and energy.”

The signing of the agreement was also witnessed by Mr Eddie Ng, Hak-Kim, Secretary for Education in Hong Kong who encouraged the development of joint academic research, he said:

“We are committed to supporting academic research in the Higher Education sector. The Research Endowment Fund, set up in 2009, has provided long-term funding stability support to all the RGC activities. This is the Government’s recognition of the excellent research work undertaken by academics and their students in the higher education sector.”

Signing the deal on behalf the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, Professor Benjamin Wah said:

“It has been a major mission of the Research Grants Council to promote research collaboration and exchanges between academics in Hong Kong and other regions through the implementation of Joint Research Schemes”

Chief Executive of the SFC, Laurence Howells said:

“Collaboration between universities to accelerate progress in research has been a great success for Scotland. Today’s agreement with the RGC builds on that success. It will give Scotland’s next generation of research leaders some wonderful new opportunities and will further enhance the reputation of Scottish university research.”

Julian Taylor, Executive Director for Asia Pacific, Scottish Development International said:

"Scottish Development International is proud to have supported the Scottish Funding Council, the Research Grants Committee of Hong Kong and their respective research communities in identifying this new partnership. Both Scotland and Hong Kong are home to some of the best universities in the world and Scotland's innovative research pooling collaboration model helps advance the country’s position as a leading knowledge partner for Hong Kong in areas of mutual interest, such as life sciences and energy.

“This Framework Agreement is only the start of what is expected to be a long term sustainable partnership between the best in Scotland and the best in Hong Kong to lead on key global research challenges, resulting in significant competitive advantage for both countries”.

Notes to editors

The Framework agreement between the Research Grants Council and the Scottish Funding Council will initially focus on energy and life sciences, but with scope for it to be widened in the future.

This agreement was signed on the First Minister’s trade mission to China and Hong Kong, with delegations from the oil and gas and construction sectors comprising 30 companies undertaking business in the country over a five-day period.

During the trip, the First Minister announced a series of Sino-Scottish deals worth £40 million over the next decade. Further information is here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Scotland-has-innovation-in-every-corner-FM-5c9.aspx

The trip has also seen confirmation that Heriot Watt University is to become Scotland’s fifth Confucius Institute, focused on Chinese business and communications. Further information is here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Fifth-Confucius-Institute-to-be-established-in-Scotland-5d1.aspx

The visit helps meet the ambitions set out in the Scottish Government’s China Strategy to increase engagement with the world’s second largest economy and builds on recent business successes. The Scottish Government’s China Strategy can be read here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/12/7734

Get news of the trade visit as it happens by following @Alex almond and @Scotto on Twitter. Images will be available for use from the Scottish Government Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/scottishgovernment.

When available, audio can be found at www.soundcloud.com/scotgovt