Future Food Beacon of Excellence Tri campus China Briefing
Led by the Future Food Beacon of Excellence, the Asia Business Centre organised the tri campus online briefing on its collaboration with China on 18 June, which aimed to highlight our research and knowledge exchange collaboration with China in the AgriFood sector, to connect our research community across all disciplines from our global campuses, and to develop exciting ideas and new opportunities for academia and industry collaboration in and with China.
In addition to researchers across multiple disciplines and research and innovation support professionals from the UK, China and Malaysia campuses, the Webinar also attracted industry partners as well as representatives from the Science and Innovation Network from the British Embassy in China.
Jason Feehily, Director of Knowledge Exchange Asia, set the scene by flagging up the significance of China’s innovation and its impact globally. He introduced the University’s China campus and its ambitious vision of delivering the China Beacons in the coming decade and how this presents opportunities for the University’s global campuses and wider research and industry partnerships.
Dr Richard Masterman, APVC for Research Strategy and Performance, introduced the University’s research vision and its ecosystem, and discussed how international research collaboration plays an vital role to achieve that vision by not only delivering the quantify of research output but enhancing the quality of the research and its impact globally and locally. Using the Beacon as a fine example of the delivery platform for the global challenges for food security, Dr Masterman described the of the ‘3-3-3 model’ that has emerged via engagement with China (namely three themes, three mechanisms and three outcomes) and the five phases of international research and engagement partnership that evolves from initial awareness into strategic partner through holistic engagement. He highlighted the bilateral UK-China scientific collaboration in the sector and the Beacon’s role in it.
Prof David Salt, Director of the Beacon gave an overview of its China strategy to develop an integrated research platform to facilitate impact across food systems to deliver sustainable food and nutritional security across the full spectrum of food systems. Working through 4 themes of Food for Sustainable Livelihood, Smart Manufacturing for Food, Future Proofing Agricultural Systems and Food for Health, the Beacon aligned its capabilities with China’s national AgriFood strategy and formed a tripartite regional clusters with partners in Beijing, Eastern China (including UNNC, Shanghai and Nanjing) and South-western China. This has led to successful collaborative research, industry innovation partnerships, advanced fellowship programmes, and will continue to contribute to the China Beacons recently launched at UNNC.
This was followed by 5 case studies of exciting research collaboration with China, often through collaborations across disciplines and campuses:
- Dr Nicole Yang and Dr Charfedinne Ayed jointly presented the Food Flavour Group’s research expertise and collaboration with China. As the country’s largest and most advanced food flavour research, the Group utilises a unique range of flavour chemistry tools which have been applied in food products from chillies, coffee to TCM herbs in Shanghai, Zhejiang Province, Dalian, Wuxi and Ningbo as well as with industry partners
- Prof Serafim Bakalis introduced his work in food process engineering and how his journey in China has led to the Innovate UK funded research collaboration with Dr Bencan Tang from Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UNNC on the research and development of alternative feeding antibiotic products from herbs, and how this can reduce the use of antibiotics and hormones that are used in livestock
- Dr Michelle Baker presented the research led by Dr Tania Dottorini on another Innovate UK funded project FarmWatch which helped to fight AbR with Machine Learning and a Wide Array of sensing TeCHnologies
- Prof David Salt introduced his long-established collaboration with Nanjing Agriculture Universityand Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology & Ecology; and
- Prof Zoe Wilson, APVC For Research & Knowledge Exchange Faculty of Science, presented her well established collaboration in crop science with Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Two presentations highlighted the AgriFood research at the University’s overseas campuses. Dr Chiew Foan Chin, Co-director of Future Food Beacon Malaysia introduced the Beacon’s establishment a year ago in UNM to address the food security challenge in Malaysia, and the agriculture and food research on the campus that includes food diversification for food and nutrition security, plant regeneration and plant secondary metabolites production, postharvest to minimise food loss and sustainable palm oil production as vegetable oil. Dr Chengbo Wang from the MRI Unit at UNNC introduced the novel use of MRI on food evaluation, and explored the fast and accuracy of its technology in fruit and vegetables, whilst recognising the costs as a challenge for commercial use. Both agreed to explore cross campus collaboration in durian between China and Malaysia, to tap into the large durian research team at UNM.
A number of stimulating questions were asked by delegates, including the ‘seaweed and circular economy’ concept raised by Simon Gerrard driven by Prof Alex Conradie, which presents huge potential for China which is the world’s largest seaweed producer but constrained to the use as a source of food. A question was asked by visiting scholars from Henan and Sichuan on the rice yield under the stress of high temperature. Helena Ou, Senior Science Officer (AgriFood lead in China) from British Embassy in Beijing commented on the Beacon’s diverse, deep and broad collaborations with China, and wanted to learn how the University will maintain its international research collaboration under the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19.
The tri campus webinar provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the University’s international research and knowledge exchange collaboration, sharing the experiences and stimulated meaningful and exciting emerging topics for future inter-campus collaboration.
If you are interested to know more of the University’s research and knowledge exchange collaboration with China and Asia, please contact Jason.Feehily@nottingham.ac.uk.