Cambridge and Nanjing launch strategic collaboration

Professor Stephen Toope, the University of Cambridge’s Vice-Chancellor, today signed an agreement to formalise a strategic partnership with the Nanjing Municipal Government.

The creation of the Cambridge University-Nanjing Centre of Technology and Innovation will entail the establishment of a joint research centre and the sharing of revenue derived from the commercialisation of intellectual property. It is the University’s first overseas enterprise at this scale.

Funded by Nanjing Municipality for five years in the first instance, the project will have its own dedicated building in Nanjing’s Jiangbei New Area, a pilot urban development based on high levels of technological innovation.

At the heart of the new Centre’s activities will be research into technologies that support a modern 21st century city with integrated IT, health care and building management. Innovations emerging from the Centre will enable the development of ‘smart’ cities in which sensors—applied at the individual level and all the way through to the level of large infrastructure—will enable sustainable lifestyles.

As well as supporting health and wellbeing in new cities, the new Centre will help deliver efficient energy use through its academic and entrepreneurial activities.

The project has been driven by Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, although it is hoped that there will be opportunities to widen participation to other departments and Schools. IP generated by research funded through the Centre will be licensed for commercialisation by  Cambridge Enterprise.

The agreement will fund positions in Nanjing, both academic and management, and will allow Cambridge-based academics to engage with specific, long-term projects in Nanjing. It will also support the establishment of a professorship, based in Cambridge, with responsibility as the Centre’s Academic Director.

Speaking just before the official signing of the agreement, held at the British embassy in Beijing, Professor Toope said: “This is only the most recent example of our collaboration with Chinese partners—but it is by far the most ambitious to date. And it is very exciting indeed”.

“We see it as an essential part of Cambridge’s contribution to society to tackle some of the great world problems. But we cannot do this on our own. There is a proverb: ‘You cannot clap with just one hand’. To me this means that we can only accomplish great things by working together —which is what we will be doing with Nanjing.”

Mr Luo Qun, a member of the Standing Committee of Nanjing’s Municipal Party Committee, and Deputy Party Secretary of the Party Committee of Jiangbei New Area, added: “We sincerely hope that both sides will rely on this new Centre to push the world’s technological frontiers and to promote the integration of science, technology, industry and financial innovation”.

The Vice-Chancellor was joined by Professor Sir Mark Welland, Head of the University’s Electrical Engineering Division and Master of St Catharine’s College. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by H.E. Dame Barbara Woodward, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to China.

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