Ireland-China €1m R&D fund established

19 Dec 2002

An Ireland-China Research Collaboration Fund agreement was co-signed today by Dr William Harris, director general of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), and the Chinese Ambassador, Dr Sha Hailin, on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

The agreement, which comes into effect next month, provides for exchanges of top-class researchers in the fields underpinning biotechnology and information and communications technology. It sets up a €1m fund covering a four-year period from 2003 to 2006. This will support a number of projects, each lasting up to two years.

The signing of this agreement is a follow up to the Framework Agreement on Scientific and Technological Co-operation between the two countries. This was signed by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney TD, in September 2000 and approved by the Dáil in March 2001.

The provisions of the Research Collaboration Fund were negotiated during the course of a visit by an SFI delegation to Beijing in July 2002. “This agreement will help to promote and encourage co-operation in scientific research and technological development between Ireland and China,” commented Dr Harris. “The Joint Research Fund has been designed to allow for an exchange of first-rate researchers in carefully targeted project areas of interest to SFI and of mutual benefit to both countries,” he said.

The Tánaiste welcomed the agreement, saying: “Collaboration and mobility go hand in hand with modern research. Many competencies and types of knowledge need personal contacts and the exchange of ideas in order to develop to their full potential. Gaining practical experience of research excellence is a powerful means of boosting excellence as a whole. Building research links with leading scientists and engineers in another cultural environment, such as that of China, will be of benefit to Irish-based researchers. This agreement should result in positive mutual gains by promoting the circulation of knowledge.”

Chinese Ambassador Dr Sha Hailin noted that research is a costly activity and it makes sense to avail of the opportunity for networking and pooling of knowledge through international collaboration as is provided for in this agreement.

By Brian Skelly