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University showcases expertise at World Expo in Shanghai

17 September 10

The UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo

The University of Bradford has been invited to play host to Chinese and UK ministers, senior industrialists and academics in the UK pavilion at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai next week (23 September).

The team, representing the University's collaboration in pharmaceutical sciences and healthcare technologies, has been asked by UK Trade & Industry (UKTI) to showcase the programme's successes in forging partnerships and creating collaborative ideas for new drugs and healthcare products with top universities and healthcare companies across China.

The World Expo is often described as the Olympic Games of the economic, scientific and industrial world. Typically held every five years, the Shanghai Expo is the biggest so far, with exhibits from around 200 countries and up to 70 million visitors expected.

Only one year into the three-year programme funded through Research Councils UK (RCUK), Bradford's Sciences Bridges China is already proving a phenomenal success.  The University believes the model it has developed offers a channel through which other UK universities and companies can create collaborations with China to accelerate the delivery of new products and technologies.

The Science Bridges team has taken a £1.27m grant for collaborative links with China and leveraged over £1 million reciprocal funding from China's central and local government for research collaborations set to lead to commercial outcomes.  A further £7m of local Chinese government funding is under discussion. The programme is based on an 'open innovation' premise, which will see any intellectual property generated shared equally between Chinese and UK partners. 

Already the Bradford-China programme is funding 11 innovative research projects which expected to lead to new drugs based on both Western and traditional Chinese medicines, as well as new medical devices and therapies. These research collaborations include technologies to mask the unpleasant taste of Western and Chinese traditional medicines in liquid form; enhancing Chinese medicines targeting Alzheimer's disease to produce medicine that can be administered through a nasal spray, rather than by injection; and improving the performance of drugs for malaria based on traditional Chinese medicine.

Paul Thorning, Director of the University's Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation which forms part of the Science Bridges team, says: "China is a superb match for the UK in terms of linking new technology with the ability and funding to take ideas to market. In the UK, we're IP-rich but lacking in funding, so many innovative ideas fail to flourish. China has well-funded, well-equipped institutes and the ability to 'think big'. Funding for new ideas is readily available as is access to strong science and large-scale clinical trials. There’s also a genuine desire in China to collaborate with the West."

Says Dr Jiansheng Du, R&D specialist for UKTI:  "The University of Bradford has been able to make a success of its Science Bridges programme because of the existing relationships with China which gave them a strong foundation to build on. In China, business concepts are very different; contacts are key. Without those, you'll get nowhere, as many UK companies have found to their cost.

"With its expertise in drug screening, drug design and medical technologies, the University of Bradford provides an excellent opportunity for Chinese pharmaceutical companies. And the vehicle they've created with the Science Bridges programme is very powerful – and could be even more so with more universities on board, using the contacts and knowledge that Bradford has amassed.

"There has been a lot of interest in the programme and we already have people across China queuing up to take part.”

17 September 10

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Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail or fax on (01274) 236280.