UK Delegation Visited China

Overview

From 27 July to 7 Aug. 2009, the UK delegation of the UK-China Science Bridges Project in (B)4G Wireless Mobile Communications with 22 delegation members, led by Dr Cheng-Xiang Wang from Heriot-Watt University (HWU) and Dr Yang Yang from University College London (UCL), visited their 12 Chinese partners (7 universities and 5 companies) in 6 cities (Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Xi’an, Jinan, and Beijing).
 
A welcome reception was hosted by British Consulate General Shanghai on 27 July 2009, attended by the Consulate representatives, a Scottish Development International (SDI) representative, UK delegation members, local Chinese partners, and Shanghai Government officials. Paul Wills, Consul of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), chaired the reception and Jacqui Booker, Deputy Consul General of the British Consulate-General Shanghai, delivered a speech to kick off this project.
 
A two-and-a-half day workshop was held at Tsinghua University, Beijing, from 4 to 6 Aug. 2009, with approximately 70 attendees. The workshop brought all the project consortium members together to present their research strengths in Wireless Communications and discuss future challenges and collaboration topics in 4G and beyond 4G (B4G). Prof. Yonghua Song (Assistant President of Tsinghua University), Mr Jijun Xing (Director of Europe, Department of International Collaboration, Ministry of Science and Technology), Mr Chris Godwin (Director of Research Councils UK (RCUK) China Office), and Mr Alastair Morgan (Commercial Counselor and Director of UKTI for China) all delivered welcome speeches to kick off the Beijing Workshop on 4 Aug. Dr Walter Tuttlebee from the Virtual Centre of Excellence in Mobile & Personal Communications (Mobile VCE), Prof. Joe McGeehan from the University of Bristol, Dr Shujun Dang from Huawei, and Prof. Ping Zhang from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT) were invited to give keynote speeches introducing the latest developments in Wireless Communications from academic and industrial perspectives in both the UK and China. 
 
 

Sponsors and Supporters

In the UK delegation, 19 members were financially sponsored by the RCUK through the UC4G project, while the remaining 3 members were sponsored by Digital Communications Knowledge Transfer Network (DC–KTN). The two-week visit was also generously supported by the RCUK China Office, British Embassy in Beijing, British Consulate General Shanghai, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of China, National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Science & Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality, and all of our 13 Chinese partners.

Outcomes

The mission to China has successfully achieved its predefined aims:
  1. The UC4G project has been further promoted. The huge potential and value of the UK-China collaboration has been widely recognised, confirmed, and appreciated by not only all the UK and Chinese consortium members but also various governmental bodies from both sides.
  2. All the consortium members have become familiar with each other, which will greatly facilitate broadening and strengthening of collaborative links. Complementary strengths in (B)4G R&D activities have been identified. Suggested topics for future collaboration and how to effectively run WP2 (supporting 30 exchange researchers for up to 3 months) of the UC4G project were openly discussed.
  3. How to enhance the impact of the project was discussed, such as taking the opportunity of Expo Shanghai 2010 to organise the first workshop for WP3 and showcase the UC4G project.
  4. How to secure further (joint) funding from from various bodies such as: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Technology Strategy Board (TSB) in the UK, MOST and NSFC in China, the European Union (EU) and industry was discussed in order to support the project. This will be particularly pertinent to WP4 prototype/testbed development and WP5 Commercialisation as well as supporting long-term sustainable UK-China collaboration beyond the project period. 
  5. Substantial attention has been attracted at the government level from both the UK and China sides. Invited officials from the British Embassy, MOST, and NSFC have all indicated the possibility and willingness of providing further supports to sustain, reinforce, and expand the existing UK-China collaboration network.
  6. Wider awareness of the UC4G project has been raised. Researchers from several organisations, such as National Physical Laboratory (UK), Swansea University, University of Essex, Aeroflex Cambridge Ltd., Nokia Siemens Networks (Beijing), Peking University, and Zhejiang University, have been attracted to participate in part or all of the visiting activities in China and have all expressed their strong wishes to join the UK-China collaboration network.   

Key Findings

China has a national strategy to become a major player in the (B)4G area. The Chinese government appears to have a clear vision in making strategic investments to achieve world-class R&D capabilities in the (B)4G sector. These government investments are strongly focused on key research programmes, key laboratories, and top universities. The funding structure ensures that the high-level government vision can be effectively implemented in a top-down fashion. All the UK delegation members have been impressed by China’s rapid growth after the visit to our Chinese partners. There have been discussions regarding how to deepen and strengthen the collaboration by securing further funding, especially the funding to UK universities from the UK government, so that the UK does not fall behind.
  1. Key Chinese universities and research institutions have been receiving strong support from the government and industry for 3G/(B)4G R&D. There is a significant funding gap between the UK and China in Wireless Communications area. The funding received by a major Chinese research group can be easily ten times larger than the funding received by a UK research group.
  2. Major research groups in top Chinese universities are much larger than those in the UK. This allows Chinese research groups to cover a wider range of (B)4G research topics. The top-down administration structure in Chinese research groups makes the collaboration among all the group members much closer.   
  3. With a large amount of funding and less funding overhead and staff costs, major Chinese universities are able to effectively use the funding to support infrastructure development and employ more research staff and students. Consequently, all of our Chinese academic partners have not only been able to conduct good-quality research but have also been heavily involved in the prototype/testbed development of 3G/(B)4G systems. Their R&D outcomes cover not only research papers, but also patents and standardisation proposals.
  4. Large numbers of Chinese researchers who had experience in studying and/or working abroad had returned to China with leading positions in universities/industries. This has greatly improved the R&D quality, communication ability in English, and visibility of relevant Chinese universities/industries.
  5. Major Chinese Telecom companies have expanded their overseas business rapidly and are becoming more and more active in all kinds of global standardisation activities.
  6. The Chinese government is very ambitious to make China a major player in global (B)4G standardisation. The central government has revealed a plan to invest 70 billion RMB (1 GBP ≈ 10 RMB) on new generation mobile wireless broadband communication networks in the period from 2008 to 2020. Huge funding to the wireless communications sector is also available from the provincial or municipal governments.
  7. Compared to China, the strength of the UK comes from the very productive research system. The wireless communication research community in the UK has been very active and is taking a leading position in the global (B)4G R&D activities. The original research ideas and fundamental contributions from the UK academics have been published and cited frequently in leading international journals and conference proceedings. The unique linkage between academia and industry, such as that created by the Mobile VCE, continues to offer very high returns for R&D investment.

Summary

It is the complementary strengths of the UK and China that make a joint collaboration initiative necessary and extremely valuable. Although substantial existing collaborative activities between the UK and China are evident, they are mainly implemented by individual researchers, which in turn means that they can be independent and uncoordinated. To harness the full potential and generate greater impact from the UK-China collaboration, it is crucial and timely to promote this systematic, long-term, and sustainable joint research initiative between the UK and China in wireless communications.
 
This UC4G project carries the expectation of both the UK and China to join hands to win “the global race to the top” of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. In Jacqui’s speech in the welcome reception on 27 July 2009, she remarked: “we are fortunate enough to witness the kick-off of this RCUK Science Bridges project. It is another significant move towards an innovation-driven UK-China collaboration in 4G Wireless Mobile Communications… We do hope that both UK and Chinese businesses can reap the economic and environmental benefits arising from this research partnership.” In Alastair’s welcome speech at the Beijing Workshop on 4 Aug. 2009, he remarked: “I believe this UK-China Science Bridge will certainly accelerate knowledge transfer and commercialisation and impact the international standardisation process of 4G wireless mobile communications… We are confident that this year, we will be seeing more Chinese ICT companies choosing UK as the ideal place for them to launch their international ambitions. And many more UK companies win business in China through Science bridge projects, through Enabling Innovation initiative, and through many more other government funded programmes”.

Visit Schedule and Presentations

Date
City
Time
Activity
July 26, Sun.
Shanghai
-
The UK delegation arrived in Shanghai
 
July 27, Mon.
Shanghai
09:30-13:30
Shanghai Research Center for Wireless Communications (WiCO) [slides 1, 2, 3]
 
14:30-17:00
Jushri Wireless Technologies Inc. [slides]
 
18:30-20:30
Reception hosted by British Consulate-General Shanghai
 
July 28, Tue.
Shanghai
09:30-13:00
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd [slides] 
 
14:30-19:30
Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJTU) [slides 1, 2]
 
July 29, Wed.
Nanjing
14:00-20:00
Southeast University (SEU) [slides]
 
July 30, Thu.
Wuhan
14:30-20:00
Huazhong University of Science & Technology (HUST) [slides 1, 2, 3]
 
July 31, Fri.
Xi’an
14:30-20:00
Xidian University (XDU) [slides 1, 2, 3, 4]
 
Aug. 1, Sat.
Xi’an
-
Tour of Xi’an organized by XDU
 
Aug. 2, Sun.
Jinan
-
The UK delegation travelled from Xi’an to Jinan
 
Aug. 3, Mon.
Jinan
09:30-14:30
Shandong University (SDU) [slides]
 
Aug. 4, Tue.
Beijing
08:00-20:00
Workshop at Tsinghua University, day 1
 
Aug. 5, Wed.
Beijing
08:00-17:30
Workshop at Tsinghua University, day 2
 
17:30-20:00
Tsinghua University
 
Aug. 6, Thu.
Beijing
08:30-12:30
Workshop at Tsinghua University, day 3
 
14:30-20:00
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT) [slides 1, 2, 3]
 
Aug. 7, Fri.
Beijing
09:00-13:00
China Mobile Communications Co., [slides 1, 2]
 
14:30-20:00
China Academy of Telecommunication Research, CTTL Labs [slides]
 
Aug. 8, Sat.
Beijing
-
The UK delegation left Beijing
 
Introduction of the UC4G project, by Dr Cheng-Xiang Wang [slides]
Introduction of Mobile-VCE, by Dr Walter Tuttlebee and Mr Simon Fletcher [slides]

More information

  • Full Summary Report of the visit [pdf]

Snapshots of visits

 
 
 

 

 

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