CHINA: Huge research grant for branch campus

In its bid to raise its global research profile, China has awarded research grants worth more than US$19 million to the overseas branch campus of a British university to produce "at least 100 new scientists".

Under the scheme announced on Saturday 17 September the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, a branch of the British university, will award at least 100 full PhD scholarships in the fields of energy, manufacturing and the digital economy.

The scholarships are part of an ambitious multi-million dollar science and technology project based at the university's new International Doctoral Innovation Centre in Ningbo.

Nottingham Ningbo's innovation team will work with at least 50 companies on new low carbon technologies. It will also develop new business models to enable Ningbo city's manufacturing sector to become sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Research students will work under the supervision of academics at both Ningbo, a coastal manufacturing city in Eastern Zhejiang province, and in Nottingham.

The move highlights the funds that China is willing to spend on research, in particular for 'world class' projects that involve international collaboration, at a time when research funding is being cut elsewhere in the Western world. The availability of funding has led to overseas universities queuing up to collaborate with Chinese institutions.

However, this is the first overseas branch campus to be awarded such a large grant. The University of Nottingham will also invest at least US$9 million in the project.

The move is consistent with China's drive to develop scientific talent, in particular "scientists, team leaders and other talents in innovative science and technology who can achieve technological breakthroughs and boost the country's hi-tech and emerging industries", according to a 2011-15 blueprint released by the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources recently.

"The project's funders and leaders have international aspirations. Our innovation team will play an important role in developing scientists in China who can create world-leading technologies and make valuable contributions to international scholarly research," said Professor Sam Shen, Registrar at Nottingham Ningbo.