Sino-British Institute for Materials Research

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Physics


As China is set to be the major source of global economic growth for the next decades, it is clearly essential that the UK is linked into and can benefit both from the excellent research that is being fostered in China (China's engineering research is already in the world top three for impact, for example, and second in Physics, with nearly 20% of world papers), and from the potential for the exploitation and implementation of that research.
Queen Mary has an outstanding track record of working in collaboration with Chinese partners. Our ability to collaborate successfully with China HEI's is best evidenced in our long-term award-winning partnership with China in teaching
providing IET-accredited joint (dual) degree programmes in telecommunications with BUPT, but also through institutional partnerships and research centres, and through numerous individual research collaborations. Our track record of working with industrial partners in China builds on the Innovation China UK (ICUK) programme which was the first UK-China collaboration to promote joint innovation and knowledge transfer. Launched in 2007, the £4.9 million HEFCE and BISfunded initiative, was led by Queen Mary and with the end of the original funding ICUK has been embedded into Queen Mary's business development unit.

This project aims to build on Queen Mary's experience in China to develop our joint Sino-British Institute for Materials Research with Sichuan University and use it as a base for developing collaborations with top Chinese Institutions which are funded primarily through the Chinese Government.

The project aims to build on our existing strengths in Organic photonics and spintronics to develop true international research projects.

Planned Impact

This proposal aims to foster, and demonstrate, UK-China excellence in collaboration to the research community, to policy makers in China and to industry. Specifically, we will fast-forward QM collaborations in materials research.

The key beneficiaries of the collaborations include:
UK and Chinese academic researchers, HEIs, and funding agencies, enabling the sharing of knowledge and access each other's expertise, funding and facilities. Through carefully chosen, long-term links QM will ensure sustainability of collaborations, focusing on the accessing of future funding, and on exploitation of collaboration outputs, as well as research quality. E.g. UK is a leader in organic electronics, China just beginning to target it, with significant investment in staff and facilities. Our joint institute will allow us to access Chinese research funding for projects based in China.
UK and Chinese technology-based companies who are keen to work with UK institutes in exploiting technology and intellectual properties in the Chinese market. Technology commercialisation facilitated by ICUK between UK and Chinese HEIs and industries will accelerate the research cycle for UK innovation and leverage Chinese development capacity, maximising economic impact for the UK. Licensing or contract research will bring income to the China-based QM institutes. Organic electronic devices are poised to make major inroads into a wide variety of applications from energy generation to displays and lighting, the global market growing from $2bn in 2009 to $330bn in 2027, annual growth rate of 37% for organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). China is one of the main manufacturing bases for these technologies and we see the link with CIAMI/Sichuan University as one route for exploitation of these technologies, though we could also tap into our BUPT/Beijing connections: Beijing Municipal government has recently announced a £50m investment in a local industrial cluster on organic electronics.
The UK econoy: through recruitment of highly-skilled researchers and students to QM. It is widely recognised in the world's most innovative countries that success in educating and attracting highly-skilled people is the key to winning the global competition in economic development. The QM collaboration in joint/sandwich CSC-supported PhDs with our partner institutions diversifies our reliance on marketing for individually recruited PhD students, and plugs us into these students' China networks, and possible future employers, ensuring sustainability of the UK's access to the best minds, as these individuals become increasingly mobile throughout their careers.


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Description The award was to help to establish a joint research Institute between Queen Mary University of London and Sichuan University in China. The institute has now been running since 2012 and we have recently expanded to include 3 new European members of academic staff at SCU as well as 3 new Chinese appointments. The institute has also attracted ~£700K of equipment funding at SCU which we have used to build new facilities which are jointly used by both QMUL and SCU staff. Prof Gillin has also been awarded an ~£70k grant from NSFC in China to work on organic lanthanide materials for laser applications.
The Institute has enabled us to develop new research areas which we are now applying for further funds from UK research Institutes and venture Capital funds to develop.
Exploitation Route Several research papers have been published as a result of this collaboration.
We are also in discussion with a venture capital company about a spin-out to commercialise some of the work which this collaboration has allowed us to further develop.
Sectors Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics

Description Platform Project
Amount ¥640,000 (CNY)
Funding ID 61574095 
Organisation National Science Foundation China 
Sector Public
Country China, People's Republic of
Start 01/2016 
End 12/2019