President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China is to visit Imperial College London today as a series of new UK-China education and research collaborations are announced.
The President and First Lady Madame Peng Liyuan will be joined by the Duke of York Prince Andrew, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Lord O’Neill, and several senior Chinese ministers.
They will be welcomed to Imperial, the UK’s number one research partner with China, by Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, and the Provost, Professor James Stirling.
Professor Gast will explain how Imperial experts and their Chinese partners are working together on cutting-edge research in fields including nanotechnology, bioengineering, computing, advanced materials, environmental engineering and public health.
Imperial has intensified its research collaborations with China significantly over the last decade. In 2005, 3% of Science and Nature papers authored by Imperial academics had a co-author from a Chinese institution. In 2015, that figure stands at 22%.
Imperial’s Chinese research partners include businesses like Huawei and China Southern Railway, as well as scientific institutions such as Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Jiao Tong, Wuhan and Peking Universities, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
At the College, President Xi will visit some of the world’s most advanced labs specialising in big data research and medical robotics, before meeting a group of the College’s 2,000 strong Chinese student community.
As President Xi visits, the Chinese Scholarship Council will announce plans for scores of China’s most academically able scholars and students to receive funding to come to Imperial, as well as support for Imperial’s finest PhD students to undertake research work at Chinese universities.
The China UCF Group will donate £3 million to support research at Imperial’s Data Science Institute and Hamlyn Centre for Medical Robotics, both of which will be visited by President Xi.
Imperial is also set to partner with Zhejiang University, a longstanding research collaborator, on a new centre for transnational entrepreneurship to be based in London.
Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said:
“UK-China relationships are increasingly important and increasingly beneficial to both countries. British universities have been instrumental in building and strengthening these relationships. Academics are enthusiastic diplomats, productive collaborators and ideally placed to benefit from our exchanges and partnerships with Chinese universities.
“As China’s top research partner in the UK, Imperial’s academics and students benefit from collaboration on a daily basis. Chinese institutions are a great source of innovative ideas and they are outstanding partners.
“From nanotechnology to aeronautics, great things happen when Imperial scholars work with their Chinese peers. As President Xi Jinping tours the College he will get a sense for the ways our academics are working together to solve global problems while helping both the UK and China to prosper.
“Imperial’s Chinese students have developed a reputation for innovation, creativity and an openness to new ideas. They are the leaders of tomorrow. Their work today will help shape the UK-China relationship for generations to come.”
During the visit, the Data Science Institute’s Director Professor Yike Guo will show President Xi how Imperial data scientists, in collaboration with Chinese and international partners, are helping policymakers around the world to develop internal migration policies that are conducive to entrepreneurship. Professor Guo will also present a data-driven analysis of China’s “One Belt, One Road” policy’s economic and social impact internationally.
He will go on to show how Imperial medics are partnering with computer scientists to enable the application of personalised medicine on a vast scale. Professor Guo will also demonstrate how smart cities researchers are monitoring and analysing transport usage for London’s tube and Shanghai’s subway networks.
At the Hamlyn Centre, its Director, Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, will show how Imperial’s innovations in medical robotics have facilitated the development of smaller, cheaper robots that enable healthcare professionals to conduct operations with unprecedented precision at low cost.
President Xi, the Duke of York and the Chancellor will interact with the latest medical robots, including a snake robot for ultra-flexible use in surgery. Professor Yang will also demonstrate how smart instruments with integrated imaging and sensing are being developed at Imperial for use in robotic micro-surgery.