Sir Keith Burnett

Sir Keith Burnett of The University of Sheffield

Sheffield University strengthens China ties

Sir Keith Burnett of the University of Sheffield visited China earlier this month to strengthen ties between the region and the far East.

The three-day visit to Beijing saw Sir Keith, who is president and vice-chancellor of the University, meet president Jianhua Lin of China’s top-rated Peking University.

The pair discussed collaboration on innovation, in particular bringing together the expertise of both universities in new materials which will be crucial for the hybrid and fully-electric cars essential to reducing pollution in Chinese cities and helping achieve global climate change targets.

As part of the visit, Sir Keith also met members of the Chinese government ministry responsible for research and industrial collaboration and held discussions with longstanding university partners from Beijing and Nanjing.

Sir Keith said: “I am really delighted to see the way our university’s partnerships are growing in China with the country’s most highly-regarded universities and with industry.

“Like the UK, China is committed to innovation and moving on from being a low-wage economy. There are tremendous opportunities for us to innovate together and develop new products in areas such as next generation vehicles which will also open up exciting research and business opportunities in the UK, including in our own region.”

He added: “On this trip I’ve also held discussions with our longstanding partners at Nanjing University with whom we work on the very latest technologies on semi-conductors and other exciting areas of science and engineering.

“We are looking forward to hosting senior visits from both Beijing and Nanjing over the next couple of months and developing together even stronger partnerships in such key areas as advanced manufacturing, engineering and science.”

The University of Sheffield is already working in China on a wide range of projects, including with the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology which is responsible for the Chinese space programme.

The University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is focusing on light-weight, high-performance materials – the same area of advanced manufacturing and materials which will be crucial to next-generation electric vehicles and which underpin the University’s research relationship with McLaren supercars.

The trip also included the annual board meeting of the Sheffield Confucius Institute which this year celebrated its 10th anniversary. In addition to providing language and cultural education in schools and to adult learners of Chinese across Sheffield, the Confucius Institute is working closely with business organisations such as the Chambers of Commerce and Creative Sheffield to offer both business Chinese training and workshops on the inward investment opportunities offered by China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.