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A separate fund for China collaboration

October 30, 2011

This recent Research Fortnight article raises the interesting possibility of a pot of money for David Willetts, the minister for universities and science, to use at his discretion in creating joint UK-China research programmes. According to the piece

At the Conservative party conference in Manchester this month, Willetts said he wanted to set up a fund that would allow him to agree to partnerships with China as and when they arise, rather than having to wait for the research councils to make a decision. Willetts spoke of his frustration at trying to explain to Chinese ministers that the Haldane principle prevents him from agreeing to projects on the spot.

The Haldane Principle is a key idea in all this. It’s set out as the first guiding tenet of the Government’s budgetary decisions (pdf), and it “means that decisions on individual research proposals are best taken by researchers themselves through peer review.” More details will hopefully come in the Government’s research and innovation strategy, expected in November. But, for a pot of money rumoured to be in the range of £50 million, let’s hope there’s a place for peer review in the process.

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