The new science of diplomacy?


How do you increase resources in tough financial times? One answer is to look overseas. UK research is looking to dynamic emerging economies in Asia and Latin America where spending on science and innovation is growing fast.

Even the UK government sees science and innovation as an emerging business opportunity in its international engagement.

According to the Guardian newspaper last week, since October 2013, David Willetts, minister for universities and science, has made three trips to China (one with the chancellor, one with the prime minister and one on his own) to thrash out the details of ambitious new program of collaborative research.

The government has announced the Newton Fund, a key component of its new official development assistance strategy. The aim is to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote economic development and welfare of developing countries.

The fund will support three broad activities: people – improving science and innovation expertise (known as ‘capacity building’), student and research fellowships, mobility schemes and joint centres. Program is the second broad activity. Funds will support programs on research collaboration on development topics. And the third area is supporting translation through focus on innovation partnerships and challenge funds to develop innovative solutions on development topics.

The government has committed £375m over five years, to be spent on joint projects. “These will be cofinanced by the UK – from the budget of the Department for International Development (DfiD) – and a targeted group of fifteen emerging powers: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.”

China account for the largest slice with £53m to help fund projects on climate change, energy and human diseases.

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