Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 2 News List

British science minister seeks closer cooperation

VISIT The highest ranking British official ever to visit Taiwan, the UK's parliamentary under-secretary of state for science and innovation is pushing stronger research ties

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Accompanied by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation Lord Sainsbury (center), Hsieh Ching-jyh (right) vice chairman of the National Science Council and John O'Reilly (left), chief executive of the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Both Taiwan and the UK would benefit from deeper scientific collaboration on a variety of scientific topics, including nanotechnology, bio-technology, and information technology, the UK's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation Lord Sainsbury said yesterday.

Sainsbury, who arrived in Taipei on Wednesday, is the highest-level British government official ever to visit Taiwan.

"Taiwan is a perfect and ideal partner for our innovators as they seek commercialization of innovation through such large volume production," Sainsbury said yesterday at a press conference.

"Meanwhile, British research and development strengths in display technology, telecommunications, biotechnology, electronics design and software should be attractive to Taiwanese companies looking to enhance their global competitiveness through overseas collaboration," Sainsbury said.

Sainsbury said that Taiwan is renowned for its excellence in high technology and large volume process engineering as demonstrated by its world leading position in the semiconductor foundry business and many electronics products.

Stressing that the ability to commercialize research is a key precursor to future economic growth, Sainbury said that Taiwan would be able to access world-class research through working with universities and other research institutions with a proven track record of cooperation with business.

Memorandums of understanding

To tighten up bilateral scientific collaboration between Taiwan and the UK, a number of scientific institutions signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) yesterday in Taipei.

Yesterday morning, Sainsbury observed the exchange of an MOU between the National Science Council's (NSC) Northern Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems Center at National Taiwan University and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Cooperation in science:

* The UK seeks closer collaboration in the areas of nanotechnology, bio-technology, and information technology.

* British Minister for Science and Innovation Lord Sainsbury said yesterday that Taiwanese firms would reap great benefit through improved ties with universities and other British research institutions with a proven track record of cooperation with business.


According to Professor Ken Snowdon, who leads the multidisciplinary Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology at the university, the research center is particularly strong in biomedical applications of microsystem technology and nanotechnology.

Snowdon is one of 1200 researchers from 14 leading UK universities working with nanotechnology and related topics.

Sainsbury said that currently the UK government is spending on the order of ?40 million (NT$2 billion) a year in nanotechnology.

He also said that the UK's spending is near the top of all European nations, but well behind the US.

"We recognize that we have to target our expenditures into fields where major British companies can exploit research, such as pharmaceutical, medical devices and aerospace," Sainsbury said.

Yesterday evening, Sainsbury witnessed the signature of another MOU signed between the NSC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the largest of the seven UK Research Councils.

Chief Executive of EPSRC John O'Reilly said that the link would pave the way for closer scientific cooperation in a number of research areas, including engineering, mathematics, materials, chemistry, physics, information technology, computer sciences, photonics, bioinformatics and nanotechnology.

NSC officials said that the memorandums with EPSRC might lead to future cooperation with the other six British research councils.

Today, Sainsbury will visit the Hsinchu-based Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park seeking other areas of possible scientific cooperation.

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