Professor Anthony Hollander, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise and Head of the Institute of Integrative Biology, was part of a delegation of N8 university leaders that recently visited France to explore collaboration opportunities.
The visit was organised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Science & Innovation Network, with the N8 delegation led by Professor Koen Lamberts, chair of N8 and Vice-Chancellor of the University of York.
The delegation also included N8’s Director Dr Peter Simpson, Professor Steve Decent (Lancaster), Professor Lisa Roberts (Leeds) and Professor Nick Wright (Newcastle).
The importance of international partnerships in research for the UK was underlined by the participation in the N8 visit of the interim UK Ambassador to France, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, and Prof Robin Grimes, Chief Scientific Adviser, FCO.
It included meetings with senior leaders and academics at the rapidly developing campus of Université Paris-Saclay, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Discussions between the parties centred on mechanisms for ensuring strong UK-France research collaborations post-Brexit, with example areas of mutual interest in AgriFood, global development, urban studies and robotics.
Dr Simpson said: “This was a great opportunity for us to raise the profile of the N8 universities with a key international partner, and to understand the ongoing changes in the French Higher Education sector. It was mutually helpful to explore specific opportunities in which we can work together more closely and ensure the UK remains at the centre of European research partnerships.
“More than ever, British universities need their friends ahead of the negotiations on leaving the European Union and we see maintaining strong relationships with European partners as fundamental to the success of any UK industrial strategy.
“Universities are, by their very nature, international organisations. There are many existing research links between N8 universities and both CNRS and other members of Université Paris-Saclay. We hope this visit can galvanise further ambitious research partnerships with France.”
The N8 Research Partnership is a collaboration of the eight most research intensive Universities in the North of England: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York. For more information please visit: http://www.n8research.org.uk