Progress with marine R&D in China

A summit of foreign academic and industry leaders who met in China’s Great Hall of the People has expanded Flinders University’s engagement with China.

Professor Rob Lewis, who chairs the Flinders University Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development (CMBD) advisory board, was a guest speaker at the high-level Chinese Government Foreign Experts Symposium in February.

The special invitation to 12 designated foreign experts was part of an ongoing program to share knowledge and experience with a panel of senior Chinese government and Department of Administration of Foreign Affairs officials on:

  • Challenges with doing business with China
  • Advice from foreign officials on developing Chinese government policies and initiatives in related fields of expertise
  • How China can improve global engagement

“I was able to focus on synergies between China and Australia’s Blue Economy (marine) strategies and industries as well as forging multinational partnerships based on ‘harmonising’ the difference in our countries’ cultures, business regimes and research-higher education systems,” Professor Lewis says.

“Over the past 30 years, China has transformed into a global market leader, not least through the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.

“Its strong equity-based market features a strong culture linking higher education, research and development, technology uptake and strong links between industry and all levels of government.

“China recognises that its continued growth and prosperity relies on ongoing innovation.”

Other presenters at the symposium were world leaders in areas such as Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank projects, international stewardship and governance, ‘big data’ management and financial engineering, the ‘Industry 4.0’ concept for advanced manufacturing automation and robotics, sustainable global enterprises, nuclear power in a climate change response, novel health management in response to an ageing society and China German BMW manufacturing partnering, to name a few.

A formal plenary session dinner banquet hosted by the Chinese Premier Mr Li Keqiang followed the symposium.

Associate Professor Kirsten Heimann, Principal Research Scientist at the Flinders Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development (College of Medicine and Public Health), is also Research Director with the Centre’s China-Australia Joint Laboratory for Native Bioresource Industry Innovations.

While in Beijing, Professor Lewis also met senior representatives of the Shandong Academy of Sciences to workshop a new initiative to create an Australia-New Zealand Innovation and Development Research Centre (ANZIDRC).

The centre’s aim is to use Australia and NZ experience in evidence-based inputs and processes into the development of 1) economic, technological development and industry policy, strategy and programs, and 2) to facilitate greater research, development, higher education, innovation exchanges and outcome transformation between each country’s institutions.

In addition, the centre aims to provide advisory and decision support for comprehensive cooperation in government departments at all levels between China, Australia and New Zealand.

The CMBD, based in the College of Medicine and Public Health, has several significant collaborations in China, including the new joint China-Australia Joint Laboratory for Native Bioresource Industry Innovation (CANBI2) with the Shandong Academy of Sciences (SDAS) in Jinan.

The partnership aims to advance native terrestrial and product development through integrated biorefinery processing systems, says Associate Professor Kristen Heimann, who has been appointed as Research Director of CANBI2 and based at Flinders and SDAS.

“The proposed Australian New Zealand Innovation and Development Research Centre will add to this,” she says, “to learn from Australia and New Zealand’s experience in evidence-based input into the development of Government and industry policy, strategy and programs”.

Associate Professor Heimann, from James Cook University in Queensland, spent the first six weeks of the year at SDAS in Jinan to familiarise herself with customs, research endeavours and participating industry.

“During this time, a joint five-year research, higher education and early career researcher training programs were developed and the first CANBI2 R&D meeting between SDAS and industry was held at the Biology Institute of Shandong Province,” says CMBD principal research scientist Associate Professor Heimann, who also is President of the Australasian Society for Phycology and Aquatic Botany.

“Most recently, a joint research and development contract was signed with the Yaoshun Peony Cosmetic company, aiming to extract bioactive compounds from the traditional Chinese peony flower to combat skin ageing and to validate their function using the cross research program spanning characterisation and validation platform set up within CANBI,” Associate Professor Heimann says.

Last year, Flinders University also signed a memorandum of understanding with the SDAS to collaborate on R&D into innovative medical devices and digital health systems.

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