Renewing a shared vision for innovation between Canada and China

MoU renewal assures continued collaboration between UAlberta and China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST)

Julia Jones-Bourque - 03 December 2018

UAlberta and China's MOST will continue their partnership through the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding, signifying formal commitment to ongoing collaboration as international partners in innovation and research.

With a strong partnership of nearly 15 years since its formal inception, the UAlberta agreement with MOST has seen a wide range of milestones that have propelled joint efforts forward, many notably through the launch of the Joint Research Laboratories (JRL) program in 2005.

The JRL program has connected UAlberta professors with research funding via the China Opportunity Fund to support work with State Key Labs (SKLs) and National Labs (NLs) in China, with a view to nurturing mutually beneficial research relationships across borders. In particular, the identified fields of common strategic interest are energy and environment; information and communications technologies; life sciences; and nanoscience and nanotechnology.

Through this connection, UAlberta researchers have had the opportunity to access more than 50 of the near 300 SKLs in China - more than researchers from any other North American institution. To date, over 60 UAlberta professors have received grants for over 90 joint research projects with SKLs and NLs in China.

This partnership has substantial impacts with regard to fostering and building strong Canada-China relations, and will "encourage and stimulate cooperation and exchanges in the areas of scientific, technological, industrial research and commercialization between China and Alberta, Canada," states the agreement.

"Not only that, the collaboration with MOST has built a strong framework for talent attraction and reputation-building worldwide," explains Dr Cen Huang, Interim Associate Vice President (International) and Vice-Provost at UAlberta, who notes that this strength of partnership is not only important to UAlberta, but also to Canada-China relations in science and technology fields.

Since the launch of the original agreement, the Government of Alberta and UAlberta invested over CAD$2.5 million to the program, in addition to funding from MOST, SKLs/NLs and other key collaborating institutions. Managed jointly by the Office of Vice-President (Research) and UAlberta International, funding was provided by the Government of Alberta and the university in order to strengthen international collaborative efforts.

This fall, UAlberta Vice-President (Research) Matthias Ruth was in Beijing to sign the renewal, together with Ms. Min Liu, Director, High Technology Research and Development Centre.

"This is a very key partnership for not only UAlberta, but also for Alberta and Canada. It fuels connections for our researchers with leading Chinese scholars, fostering enhanced research outcomes and perspectives, " notes Ruth. "The projects and joint work that have resulted from this partnership are producing valuable outcomes and moving us all forward in terms of innovation and discovery. The outcomes, in fact, continue to flourish, as we see launches of other major initiatives such as the UAlberta-Tsinghua Joint Research Centre for Future Energy and Environment. We look forward to continuing this momentum in the years ahead."