Thank you, Jeska for your kind introduction.
It is a mark of the foresight of Research Fortnight that you chose
to organise a conference on Global Research on this day.
With financing, spending cuts and demonstrations at the forefront
of many British minds, there is a danger that instead of lifting our
eyes to the global future, we stay fixated on the domestic
So this Conference is a welcome chance to think about what
really matters; and looking at the range and depth of the
speakers and panellists, I am certain it will motivate, engage and even inspire.
Naturally, a conference about collaboration can be seen as one
of those “talking about talking” events that academia is
occasionally mocked for, but that would be a great error.
After all, Academia was the first truly globalised industry.
As Louis Pasteur said “Knowledge belongs to no country”.
The flow of information between cultures is the great gift of the
academic community to the world.
That flow of ideas enriches our debates, guides our thinking and
corrects our errors.
Without collaboration, Academic research and the innovation that
stems from it would have not extended the boundaries of human
knowledge to the extent it has.
Collaboration is the foundation stone of successful research and
You can see that heritage in the Greek, Latin and Arabic titles of
Academic departments and in the way our most basic
mathematical concepts are rooted in Arabic numerals, in turn
rooted in Brahmin numeral systems.
The same is true of practical advances, from gunpowder to steel,
knowledge of which reached the world from their homes in China
and India.
From this research came trade and opportunity.
Imagine if the smallpox vaccine had eliminated that murderous
disease two generations earlier.
The successes -and failures- of the past remind us why the
globalisation of research is crucial.
The challenge I pose today: “How can UK Higher education make
a greater mark in global research and innovation?” contains a
coded compliment.
The UK –already– makes a great impact.
We have a strong history of collaboration with both the US and
You can see this in fields from defence to health care and in the
lists of prize winners and laureates.
That success continues today, as this rather beautiful map of
global research collaboration makes clear, with Britain shining
What’s more, according to Universities UK, Britain’s globally
collaborative research increased by one hundred and fifty per
cent between 1996 and 2006.
Last month’s government study on International Research tells us
international collaboration accounted for about thirty per cent of
all British research papers in the nineteen nineties.
That figure stands at forty-six per cent today, a huge increase in
This collaborative success is founded on an even more
fundamental achievement.
This map shows what the world would look like if mapped by
academic journals. It highlights the central role of the UK in the
world’s research life.
The UK has one per cent of global population, but we produce
eight per cent of scientific papers.
Britain is also responsible for fourteen per cent of the world’s
highest cited papers, a share which is actually increasing.
And no speech on British research would be complete without a
mention of Britain’s Nobel prize winners or a mention of
Britain’s universities are unequivocally, a success story.
So: British research is world class, British collaboration rates are
high, and the quality of work produced is excellent.
But I wouldn’t have come here today if I didn’t have a message
more significant than “Well done, carry on”.
It’s clear the research world is changing around us.
Obviously there is the rapid expansion of the BRIC nations, but
the changes in global research go further than any four nations,
no matter how significant.
I’ve recently returned from Turkey, where publication rates are
expanding almost as fast as China’s. The Turkish government
now hopes to use research expertise to drive their economy
We must seek to be driven forward with them.
Britain’s academic stock is high. This makes it the perfect time to
strike out on a bold course.
So here comes the hard part.
I would identify four areas British Higher Education must address
to improve our impact on Global research.
First, our Research strengths today do not match those of the
most rapidly expanding research economies.
As you can see here, Britain’s greatest research strengths are in
the Humanities and the social sciences.
But on the other side of the ledger, in China, the strongest
research subjects are in Engineering and Physical sciences;
India’s strengths lie in Physical and Environmental sciences,
Brazil’s in Health and Biology and Russia’s in Mathematics and
Similar patterns can be seen from Turkey to Singapore.
These emerging market expertises tell us where to expect
resources to be devoted in high growth economies.
It is not hard to understand why emerging economies should
specialise in areas like engineering and physical sciences.
Their funding sources are the state, which has limited resources
and is naturally interested in impact, and the private sector, which
is clearly interested in practical innovation.
As a result, there is special emphasis on applied research in
Emerging economies.
It is perhaps one thing to talk of the value of Blue Sky research in
Oxford, but quite another in Sao Paolo, or Calcutta, or the
Chinese interior.
If we seek to make a truly global impact we need to focus on the
priorities of our partners.
Second, perhaps as a result of the above, our partnerships with
expanding markets are not increasing at a rapid enough rate.
While our partnerships with China are growing, they are not
growing at the same rate as Chinese research overall.
Between 2006 and 2010 China’s increase in academic articles
was greater than Britain’s total output, while India’s grew by over
twelve per cent a year.
This growth was driven by major funding increases in both
nations, which is sure to continue. In both cases, Britain’s rate of
collaborative growth underperformed the overall growth in
Third, if we want to share in emerging economies research
growth, we need to recognise that our overall spending on R&D
is too low, and equally importantly, of the wrong type.
UK GERD was some thirty two billion dollars in 2010, which
represents a fall in our share of global research of zero point
seven per cent.
This is emphatically not an issue of cuts.
Our relative decline is mainly driven by a low Business R&D
As the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said in their
recent on the UK research base:
“Business Enterprise R&D, often considered a driver of
short-term economic growth... is lower than that of all
comparator countries...”
We should worry at that phrase: “Lower than all comparator
Our internationally low rate of Business investment in R&D might
also explain our weak performance in patents, where the UK has
a mere two point two per cent of Global patent applications, a
share that is low and falling
We should be concerned by the decline in the number of
Business researchers in the UK, who suffered a reduction of over
nine thousand between 2005 and 2009.
Why do I express worry about Business R&D in a speech on UK
Higher Education?
Because in the countries we need to collaborate with, a very high
proportion of research is funded by the private sector.
In China it is over two thirds, the same in Germany, the same in
the US. In Japan it is almost eighty per cent.
This means our internationally low rates of Academic-Business
collaborative research is an issue, with just one point three per
cent of British research papers being authored jointly by Business
and Academic researchers.
If we do not work with Business at home, we can scarcely expect
to be attractive to Businesses globally.
This impact gap should not be laid at the door of British
universities or funding councils.
Too many British business leaders were insular and short-sighted
in their unwillingness to invest in R&D.
Most have long since paid the price.
But think about that for a moment.
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If potential partners discover we have few domestic industrial
research leaders, little business-academic research depth and a
poor track record of creating patents;
Then what makes us an attractive place for them to invest?
Why would my alma mater, IIT Kharagpur, choose to work with a
researcher in Birmingham over one based at MIT?
Why would WiPro, or HTC, or Google put their research dollars
into the UK, rather than Germany, or Fusionopolis in Singapore?
I do not wish to be pessimistic.
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Our strengths are many, and include the quality of our research
base, the reputation and breadth of our research interests and
our openness as a place of learning.
Britain’s impact gap is changing too, in part thanks to government
initiatives like the Technology Strategy Board and a new attitude
to impact from Research councils.
We can also point to the growth in the UK of companies willing to
invest in the future, whether home grown, like Dyson and Rolls
Royce; or new inward investors like Tata.
The other good news is that the solutions are relatively
The first task is to maintain our reputation as a world class place
to do research.
Here, the approach of the Coalition has been complementary to
the investment we saw under the last government.
Research funding has been protected, and even large scale
capital schemes are in a relatively strong position.
However, it is clear that expansion of funding must come from
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elsewhere, and thus we have an incentive to end Britain’s historic
weakness in Business funded research.
That means understanding the structures and objectives of
research funders beyond the UK, and working in partnership with
them to achieve shared goals.
We must also work to further establish our reputation in applied
research, where emerging markets are most likely to invest their
We need a renewed emphasis on international collaboration in
Engineering, Biology, Physical and Health Sciences and
dedicated funding streams to support collaboration.
We should also identify Research funding priorities for
“continental” and “national” collaborative research alongside the
“Grand challenges” of global research. This is not simply about
current success stories, but about long term potential.
One of the hidden developments in Global Academia is China’s
investment in partnerships in Africa. Do we in Britain have a path
to increased academic collaboration with the least connected
parts of the global academic network?
Third, we must ensure that those who we desire be collaborative
do not suffer by that choice.
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For example, you can expect a lower citation rate by researching
with a Chinese or Brazilian partner than an American one.
This is in part because of language, partly because of informal
barriers to publication and citation.
So we must give more weight to non-bibliometric measures of
We should also create incentives for researchers and institutions
to pursue research partnerships in high growth nations.
Finally, we should seize the opportunity created by the rapid
expansion of developing market to offer emerging global
corporate titans the expertise they need to be globally
These businesses will naturally want to develop research
capability in their home markets.
So our partnerships should be three cornered- between
researchers in the UK, Higher education institutions in emerging
markets and, of course, with Business.
I know from personal experience how transformative such
partnerships can be.
Twenty years ago WMG launched the Integrated Graduate
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Development scheme.
Our partners were Hong Kong Polytechnic University and twelve
Hong Kong based companies, and our shared aim was to
encourage local innovation and develop local innovators.
At that time people thought our interest in Hong Kong was a little
odd and rather risky.
Since then, the astonishing success of the region has been
exceeded only by the career trajectory of those who we worked
I’m particularly proud of the role we’ve played in developing
leaders like Henry Tseng of Kingtronics, and Roy Chung of
These are relationships for the long term. Indeed, Roy Chung is
now a member of Warwick University Council.
By understanding the needs of others, we created partnerships
which will deliver international research innovation in Warwick
and Hong Kong for decades to come.
British research is world class.
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Our economy is open, and our connections unparalleled.
We have the basis to take our success even further,
But we will succeed only if we are willing to admit that it is we
who have to learn,
we who must change,
we who must adapt.
We have much to offer, but we must understand what our
partners seek, and demonstrate how we can grow and develop to
meet their needs.
If we do that, the future is bright indeed.
Thank you.

INTRO SLIDE Thank you, Jeska for your kind introduction.