The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, will attend the signing today (1 May) of a Memorandum of Understanding between the national engineering academies of the UK and China to collaborate on both technological and policy development on topics like advanced manufacturing, sustainable energy and emerging technologies like synthetic biology.

The Royal Academy of Engineering will host the signing ceremony this afternoon with its President Sir John Parker and the President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Professor Zhou Ji. The two academies have been working together for two years as part of a major initiative between the science and engineering academies of the USA, China and the UK to discuss developments in synthetic biology, which continues next month with a symposium in the USA.

Today’s event is being held jointly with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Engineering research and leadership is critical to the further development of the UK’s synthetic biology sector. Researchers from across the UK who are working on synthetic biology and other strategically important areas will attend.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "Emerging technologies like synthetic biology and advanced manufacturing have enormous potential for both our economy and society and through international collaboration we can really capitalise on this. This agreement will bring together leading experts from both of our national engineering academies to work on a range of important policy areas for researchers and industry."

Sir John Parker, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Engineering innovation brings many benefits – it underpins progress in society and generates wealth and employment. We need to harness exciting new technologies like synthetic biology as they emerge and build them into our industrial strategy for the future. I am delighted that we are now embarking on the next phase of our partnership with our colleagues in the Chinese Academy of Engineering.”

Professor David Delpy FREng FMedSci FRS, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “EPSRC and the Royal Academy of Engineering are working in partnership in strategically important areas of engineering research and policy for the UK. EPSRC already invests £23 million in UK research into synthetic biology, including the EPSRC Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation at Imperial College London. We welcome the UK and Chinese Academies working together to support high quality research in these areas.”

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800m a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

    The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton