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Innovation center model of China-UK cooperation

By Alan Barrell | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-08-03 16:54
The launching ceremony of the Shanghai International Energy Innovation Centre - UK-China Collaboration on June 26, 2018 in Shanghai. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

At a time when the UK is struggling with Brexit and post Brexit, all examples of ways that China and UK can collaborate to increase international trade – and develop business and commercial relationships with China are great news. Indeed, both UK and China are very enthusiastic to see how the two countries can collaborate and work together to improve international relationships and encourage moves away from trade wars and the move toward "a world without borders" – which so many of us would like to see become a reality. And UK and China are committed to prevent the development of a trade war which nobody will win.

For three years since senior management of Shanghai Energy Corporation first visited Cambridge in UK and worked with Professor Alan Barrell, exploring how innovative approaches to energy conservation and the development of more smart cities could be brought closer to reality by knowledge and technology transfer, work has been underway for groups based in Cambridge innovation centers and science parks to work with management of Shanghai Energy Corporation to assist the establishment of a state of the art Innovation Centre in Shanghai (SIEIC) – a model of cross-continental knowledge and technology transfer – benefitting two key centers and making a big contribution to the development of progress toward a greener world, initially around Shanghai.

Business Global Technology Accelerator (BGTA), a company based in both UK and China, has facilitated an innovative program whereby established science parks and innovation centers in Cambridge – one of the world's most successful centers of turning R&D into business and where a world-class cluster of technology companies has been grown over 50 years – to a point where more than 4,700 of hi-tech companies now operate employing increasing numbers of knowledge workers has been able to work hand in hand with colleagues in Shanghai Energy Corporation to bring to reality the vision of a new and highly innovative center of new technology development in Shanghai.

Five UK centers of excellence gave time and contributed to the development of a Research and Feasibility Study – coordinated by BGTA – to test the theory that working together, technology and knowledge transfer between these centers and Shanghai Energy Corporation could result in the rapid establishment of a new center financed by Shanghai Energy and which would work to continuously to connect with Cambridge and enjoy knowledge transfer and the curation of innovative energy related technology companies in Cambridge – to result in their migration / extension to Shanghai and contribute to Shanghai Energy Corporations development as a world leader in sustainable energy technology and smart city development capability. The centers were all world leaders –

  1. St John's Innovation Centre
  2. Trinity Science Park Cambridge
  3. Future Business Centre
  4. Cambridge Cleantech Ltd
  5. Cambridge Design Partnership Ltd

On June 26 in Shanghai, with the deputy consular general of UK from Chongqing present with Shanghai Energy management and BGTA, the innovation center was launched and a research report showing how the project had been developed was also shown issued.

The report and the contractual agreement now in place between BTGA and Shanghai Energy is a wonderful example of how technology and knowledge transfer between a key technology center Cambridge and a great centre seeking new technology to support China's quest for new clean technology have found a truly creative and constructive way to work together with benefits to all.

President Xi Jinping called internationalization and globalization as essential activities to ensure world's economic growth. Our example involving Cambridge technology and Shanghai Energy engagement and implementation is an exceptional example of strategy being put into practice. The model, if extended to other projects and centers, could make significant contributions to economic progress in both UK and China. This project could make big positive contributions to the acceleration of progress in China toward environmental improvement and the development of smart cities.

The author is a professor at the University of Cambridge in England and also has appointments at four Chinese Universities and is a director of Chinese and UK companies.

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