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Nankai JRI 920
University of Birmingham China Institute Director Professor Jon Frampton with Nankai University President Professor Cao Xuetao.

Leaders from Nankai University visited the University of Birmingham to continue work on progressing shared research to tackle a range of environmental and social challenges, encompassed by the new Joint Research Institute (JRI).

Led by President Professor CAO Xuetao, the Nankai University delegation also explored new areas for co-operation, meeting with experts from Birmingham’s College of Medical and Dental Sciences to discuss a range of potential research areas in the biomedical and life sciences.

Marking the occasion, Professor Cao Xuetao delivered the University of Birmingham China Institute’s Inaugural Li Siguang Distinguished Lecture. Professor Cao – an acknowledged world-expert in his field – addressed medical researchers on ‘Epigenetic regulators in innate immunity, inflammation, and cancer’ at the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine.

At the same time on campus, Birmingham Chemistry and Chemical Engineering experts held a parallel workshop involving Nankai University School of Chemistry and Tianjin University School of Chemical Engineering. Professor Cao also attended the closing session of this workshop.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood welcomed the Chinese delegation and commented: “It is an honour to welcome such a world-leading expert as Professor Cao to Birmingham to deliver our China Institute’s Inaugural Li Siguang Distinguished Lecture.

“Our two universities have established a global research institute, which we believe will produce high-profile work that will improve the environment and the health of millions of people in China and around the world.

“We hope to expand our shared research journey into other subject areas, which will foster strong partnerships that we believe will help China’s policy-makers respond efficiently to the challenges we face.”

The visit was the latest development in a long-standing relationship that was formalised by establishing the JRI in Green Economy and Sustainable Development on 15 January. This followed a series of exchange visits and discussions between the two Universities over the previous two years.

Following the signing, a number of key activities have taken place during 2018, including:

  • Signing of the JRI agreement in Nankai University in January 2018.
  • The formal launch of JRI in Birmingham in March.
  • A joint workshop hosted by Nankai University in September 2018.
  • The current visit introducing President Cao and his team to colleagues in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.

President Cao commented: “The Nankai University–University of Birmingham Joint Research Institute integrates our two universities' superior disciplines and levels of platforms. We aim to set up strategic multi-disciplinary research collaboration to find efficient ways to solve global problems and issues. We have achieved the important and successful first step and we will work jointly to progress the next steps and further our collaboration.”

The JRI venture around green economy and sustainable development will allow inter-disciplinary research activities, faculty exchange and joint PhD education. Researchers from Nankai University and UoB will focus on evaluating the impact of China’s green policies, as well as how policies can be improved and examining links between inequality and environmental challenges.

Research projects under development include developing multi-disciplinary approaches to a range of important issues:

  • Air pollution;
  • Water and soil pollution;
  • Recovery and recycling of chemical contaminants from plastics
  • Behavioural economics - changing employee behaviour in an environmental context;
  • Impact on the environment of manufacturing – for example, production of denim clothes has serious consequences for river pollution;
  • Technological solutions such as smart meters, or on-site recovery of key pollutants such that they could be re-used in the process; and
  • Improving the efficiency of regulation - the modern production mode involves global supply chains and complex regulatory approaches.

The Institute brings together research excellence between the two universities to allow cross-disciplinary research in global challenge topics. It will also establish a hub of postgraduate education and research training, pursuing research funding opportunities in China and the UK and speeding up the development of new and sustainable industries in both countries.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked 7th in the UK for Graduate Employability (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2014/15) and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment 2015/16 by The Times and Sunday Times.
  • The history of collaboration between China and the University of Birmingham dates back almost to the foundation of the University in 1901. The University’s China Institute was created in 2012 to reflect Birmingham’s extensive academic activities its colleagues undertake in China.
  • Nankai University was established in 1919, and is a China national 211 and 985 University. It ranks between 11-15 in China (NetBig). It is a comprehensive university, with 80 undergraduate disciplines, 231 Master’s programmes and 172 PhD programmes, in areas such as arts, social sciences, law, economics, medicine and engineering.