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Major China-UK ICT initiative in digital technologies launched

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has embarked on a major initiative to develop and lead on the establishment of the first ever China-UK Technology Innovation Centre (CUTIC). 

The vision and rationale for CUTIC is to extend the capabilities of current digital communications and Internet Technologies through a programme of novel research and communications engineering that will impact on the digital economy and society of both countries.

UEA co-organised the inaugural CUTIC workshop with Tsinghua University in Beijing in September.

The UK leader of the CUTIC initiative is Prof Gerard Parr, Head of School of Computing Sciences at UEA and also Chair in Telecommunications Engineering. 

Prof Parr said: “There are huge opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborative ICT research between top scientists in UK and China. Importantly, CUTIC will bring together the top researchers in electrical engineering, computer science and software engineering, as well as industry, to explore the infrastructure and societal challenges posed by the never-ending growth in internet-based application and services.

“CUTIC will also involve globally significant industrial partners from both countries such as BT Research & Innovation to ensure the focus and impact of our research is of the highest quality and relevance to China and UK. From a UEA perspective, CUTIC represents a new wave of international high-profile initiatives that we view as being strategically important, not just to our own ambitions, but also the wider UK economy.”

The workshop was developed in close collaboration with Prof Nader Azarmi from BT’s world-famous Research and Innovation Laboratories at BT Adastral Park in Suffolk, together with Prof Wei Chen from Tsinghua University in Beijing and the UK Foreign Office Science Innovation Network in Beijing.

The event attracted more than 50 of the top research scientists and representatives of key industrial partners in China and UK. Of particular relevance and importance was the engagement of senior staff involved with managing global research from BT Research and Innovation in UK, USA and China and leading industry representatives from China including AsiaInfo and Xiaomi.

The key topics of  focus for CUTIC include future 5G wireless technologies, big data analytics, cloud computing and Internet of Things, with a particular target of smart connected society and its impact on the environment, health and transport and the rural economy. Within this mix will be large-scale experiments linked to smart connected vehicles, connected home, smart supply chain, emergency response communications and healthy nation. From the UK perspective, many of the areas selected map closely with priorities as identified by the UK Government and the funding agency Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and InnovateUK.

CUTIC is also maps directly to priorities for digital technologies and Internet of Things identified by the UK’s Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, when he spoke recently at the opening of the ‘UK China Innovation is GREAT’ showcase in Shanghai on 23 September.

CUTIC builds on a range of existing successful collaborations between the UK and China. It also leverages a successful model that Prof Azarmi and Prof Parr developed previously between UK and India that created the largest consortium project of its kind in the ICT sector between both countries involving over 200 scientists.

Prof Parr has already built up an impressive consortium of academic partners to help him take forward the CUTIC initiative. It includes partners from University College London, Queen Mary University of London, Ulster University, Exeter University, Heriot-Watt, Surrey and University of Cambridge. Companies such as BT and Inmarsat will also be involved.

They will be joined by the top universities in China, led by Tsinghua University together with other top Chinese Institutions including Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and several influential ICT companies in China.

CUTIC will represent a unique initiative in the ICT sector and will map directly to the priorities for improved UK-China Collaboration as identified by both governments.

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