Marine biotech focus for China trade trip

InDaily photo Qingdao
Qingdao municipal government official Mr Xiao Ming Chu, left, meets Professor Cromar, Professor Kidd, Professor Zhang, Mr Taverner and Mr Flink at the Qingdao High-Tech Park where Flinders University is seeking to further expand its marine biotechnology presence in China.

Marine biotechnology, entrepreneurship and health education were the focus of high-level talks held by Flinders University representatives during a large South Australian trade mission to China last month.

The Shandong-SA Cooperation and Development Forum was held in Jinan and Qingdao in Shandong Province from 24-26 May.

The delegation of 250 was led by the South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, and included representatives from the state’s three public universities including Flinders Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Nancy Cromar, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Professor Michael Kidd and Professor Wei Zhang, from the Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development.

The Director Partnerships and Student Services (International) Matt Taverner and the Deputy Director of Flinders’ New Venture Institute, Mr Ben Flink, also represented the University.

The focus of the Flinders University visit was on developing further links between Flinders University and local partners involved in marine biotechnology.

Progress was made in developing an inaugural initiative under the China-Australia Institutes for Marine Biotechnology Industry network.

This led to the signing of a Heads of Agreement with the Qingdao High-Tech Park in a ceremony witnessed by key members of the delegation, including Mr Weatherill.

The plan seeks to optimise commercial opportunities and industry development associated with the emerging ‘Blue Economy’ strategies of both countries and includes training of a high-tech global workforce in marine biotechnology.

Meeting also were held at the Qingdao Agricultural University to visit the Qingdao Gather Great Ocean Algae Industry Group-Flinders University Advanced Microalgae Biotechnology Joint Laboratory.

The University re-signed its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the prestigious Ocean University of China as well as established a Framework Agreement on Cooperation with Jinan Pharma Valley located in the Jinan High-Tech Park, paving the way for potential research, development and commercialisation opportunities in China.

Interest was shown in the Flinders’ New Venture Institute (NVI) and the new Tonsley facility as a model for engaging students and staff in entrepreneurship. A visit to Shandong University of Finance and Economics resulted in a new link for student exchanges in business and entrepreneurship as a global network partner for NVI.

In health care and education, meetings were held with representatives of academic and clinical health, aged and disability care service providers in Jinan. Much of the emphasis was on working with Chinese partners on meeting the challenge of rapidly increasing needs in aged care, with strong interest in Flinders’ work in aged and disability care, assisted living, medical devices, digital health, palliative care, primary care, rural health, and chronic disease prevention and management.

Professor Kidd also took the opportunity to conduct a seminar at the School of Nursing at Shandong University (MoU signed in 2013) to discuss the Master of Nursing course and to further staff and student exchanges and research collaborations.

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