The South West Business Council has revealed plans for a new UK-China innovation centre.

The research and development centre is to be set up in Nanjing, China. Plans were outlined last week at Nanjing Tech Week, a leading event promoting international cooperation, hosted by the city of Nanjing.

The centre is being launched in partnership with the South West Business Council (SWBC) and leading universities and colleges, including Falmouth University and Cornwall College Group.

Discussions of business and educational collaboration took place at the forum, alongside plans to set up the ‘South West Business Council China Office’ within the Nanjing Jiangbei New Area.

Lisa Roberts, vice chancellor and chief executive of the University of Exeter, recorded a speech for the forum, in which she encouraged innovation at regional levels for both sides through the network of businesses and educational establishments that will be created.

Tim Jones, chairman of the South West Business Council, said: “The UK leaving the EU has been difficult, but we are determined to develop global relationships. So, this is an important step in that direction and a huge statement for partnership working. We have strong academic links with Nanjing through our universities. Now we want to translate that into business activities, so that all of our businesses, big and small, can work towards the future together.

“Technology is the future, it is the way which growth will be achieved. Our view is that partnership working is the key, but we need to take the next generation with us so that they can maintain a sustainable relationship with growth economies like China.”

Lord Robin Teverson, member of the House of Lords, former MEP and board member of the South West Business Council, added: “There is a focus on the south west at the moment following G7. We are a successful region which is growing in the food, technology, tourism, environmental and higher education sectors. We are also set to become a beneficiary of the UK Government’s levelling-up process, with increased investment in research and development.

“Internationally, regional connections are even more important than national ones. They allow close cooperation between individuals, joint programmes that are practical rather than theoretical and SMEs on both sides can involved. This is an important initiative – may our cultural and economic relationship continue to grow.”

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