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(Boston) – Boston University and the University of Warwick, one of Britain’s leading research universities, have announced a partnership to leverage the strengths of each institution through research collaboration in new and emerging disciplines.
The announcement coincided with a BU visit and speech by Rt. Hon. John Denham MP, the British Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, who echoed the recent statements by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for more inter-university collaboration between the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
“Speaking as a government minister, I recognize that these days, national leaders must be concerned with both competition and collaboration,” said Denham. “But it is equally a feature of the modern world that scientific quality, academic eminence, and successful businesses depend on international cooperation — scientific collaboration, the interchange of academics and partnerships between universities, relationships between global corporations and innovative start-ups.”
Prime Minister Brown, writing in the April 16 issue of “Wall Street Journal,” stated “…I want to suggest how our Atlantic relationship….can be renewed and extended into new areas for a new generation. First, I am proposing moving cooperation between our universities at a far higher level.”
For nearly a year, BU and the University of Warwick, located on the edge of Coventry and just 15 miles from Birmingham in England’s Midlands, have explored ways to establish ties that will lead to sustainable, long-term collaborations.
“The prime minister’s statement and Secretary Denham’s comments could not have been timelier, given the work that BU and the University of Warwick have been doing to connect the two institutions,” said BU Associate Provost and Vice President for Research, Andrei E. Ruckenstein.
The two universities have already staged two workshops in complexity science and materials science, and have committed resources for further exploratory workshops in healthcare optimization, clean energy and infectious diseases. Also, the planners are exploring a broadening of the collaboration to include the Humanities and Social Sciences, and identifying more substantial, long-term funding for the next three years.
“Our strategic vision calls for expanding our international programs, particularly to new opportunities for interdisciplinary research that will provide more opportunities for our students to study abroad and for their international collaborators to come to Boston,” said BU President Robert A. Brown. “We expect that collaboration with the University of Warwick will provide an exciting array of just such opportunities.”
Added BU Provost David K. Campbell, “The BU-Warwick initiative is driven by our respective faculty’s shared understanding that modern research universities must expand their presence beyond traditional geographic, scholarly and educational borders.”
Technology transfer and the commercialization of intellectual property have been identified as key objectives, noted Ruckenstein.
“With this new alliance, the discussion of technology transfer is acquiring a broader, more global dimension,” he said. “From a more immediate and practical perspective, the two universities are exploring the possibility of serving as ‘soft landings’ for each other’s spin-off companies and building a network of educational and mentoring programs that would serve and strengthen both institutions.”
The University of Warwick, straddling the boundary between the City of Coventry and the County of Warwickshire, was founded in 1965, and enrolls over 11,000 undergraduates and more than 7,000 post-graduate students. It employs over 1,600 professors and more than 800 researchers. The university is comprised by 29 academic departments and over 50 research centers and institutes. Based on regular assessments conducted by the British government, it has consistently ranked among the top half dozen universities for the quality of its research.
Professor Nigel Thrift, the vice-chancellor at Warwick, believes that the two universities can together achieve results that neither institution could deliver alone.
“What this relationship is about,” he remarked, “is deep, lasting and meaningful collaboration across the Atlantic that allows each of our universities to leverage on the strengths of the other to achieve even greater impact from its research endeavors.”