N8 AgriFood has extended its relations with Chinese research groups following a partnership-building visit which resulted in a new framework for long term project collaborations.
A team of nine N8 AgriFood representatives, including academics from the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and York, spent five days in China meeting with Chinese agri-tech academies, researchers, district local governments and agri-tech innovators.
N8 AgriFood has been actively engaging with various Chinese stakeholders with the support of the Beijing FCO Science and Innovation Network since 2016, working in close collaboration with CRTDC (China Rural Technology Development Council). The programme hosted two delegations from China in 2017 and 2018, resulting in collaborations across Theme 1 of N8 AgriFood’s work; Sustainable Food Production.
The aim of the 2019 visit, which coincided with a mission of 16 SMEs led by Innovate UK, and a group of researchers from the Universities of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent, was to reinforce relations with Theme 1 partners, and also find collaboration partners in China for N8 AgriFood’s Theme 2 (Resilient Supply Chains) and Theme 3 (Improved Consumption and Health).
Professor Louise Dye, pictured right, N8 AgriFood’s Chair in Nutrition and Behaviour, based at the University of Leeds, who was part of the delegation, said: “This trip brought together a really diverse range of scientists from the UK and China to explore common issues that face us all in terms of food security, quality and health.
“There are some great possibilities now for us to learn from each other and collaborate to address these challenges.”
The N8 AgriFood group showcased its expertise in soil health, crop genetics, supply chain management, health and nutrition and food consumption sustainability. The Chinese counterparts welcomed on all occasions the breadth of research offered across the N8, as well as the specific expertise that was presented during the various workshops and meetings.
The group had the opportunity to interact and network with researchers from China Agricultural University, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) institutes, the China Rural Technology Development Centre (CRTDC), as well as from the Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and finally policy makers and influencers at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE).
Dr Charlotte Hardman, a Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences, based at the University of Liverpool, who was also part of the N8 AgriFood team in China, said: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to visit China as part of the N8 AgriFood partnership building agenda.
“I would like to thank our Chinese hosts in Beijing and Nanjing for organising a stimulating programme of activities and networking opportunities.
“During the trip, myself and the other N8 delegates made a number of key contacts with Chinese partners in food and nutrition spanning the three themes of N8 AgriFood activity. We look forward to developing productive collaborations with these partners in mutual and strategic areas of interest to tackle the critical issue of global food security.”
One of the main outcome of the visit was a funding offer from Chinese for seed funding to support common projects that can be developed, starting with more immediate actions, such as bilateral visits and exchanges. The N8 AgriFood team has also formulated a new framework for specific long-term priorities resulting from relations made during the visit.