Since 2007, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) China office has provided essential expertise and support for UK Research and Innovation to engage with China. The office has 4 key functions:
- providing strategic insight and advice to UKRI on China’s dynamic research and innovation landscape
- negotiating and facilitating the delivery of joint funding programmes
- managing key relationships and stakeholder engagement to raise UKRI’s profile within China
- demonstrating and communicating the impact of UKRI’s work
Our team leads on developing relationships with all major Chinese national and regional research and innovation funding agencies, including the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Ministry of Science and Technology and Chinese Academy of Sciences to facilitate joint UK-China research and development programmes.
The relationships fostered by our Beijing office have led to research and innovation collaborations with a UKRI investment value of £440 million, bringing together more than 300 partner research organisations and businesses in 34 provinces in China with the UK.
Our collaboration is vital for tackling global challenges and delivers benefit to the UK. Recent examples of impact include UK-China collaborations to develop rapid COVID-19 testing solutions, and research that has reduced the risk of antibiotic-resistant diseases emerging that could threaten UK and global populations.
UKRI China key statistics
Between 2007 and 2021 UKRI China:
- supported 804 joint research and innovation projects
- had £440 million UKRI funding matched by China
- funded 228 lead organisations across 16 regions
- resulted in 10,490 scholarly publications
- achieved a field-weighted citation impact of 2.7, nearly 3 times higher than the global average and well above the average citation impact in the UK
- received 4,200 citations in policy literature
- engaged over 3,500 research organisations
- saw 800 technical outputs reported
- created more than 100 intellectual property outputs benefitting the UK
- funded 27 joint research centres
- created 24 UK spinout companies
- created or maintained 300 UK jobs
Why collaborate with China
China is a science superpower and the world’s second-biggest spender on research and development (R&D), with a year-on-year expenditure increase averaging 12.5% over the past 5 years (2017 to 2021). Total public and private science and technology expenditure has risen significantly in recent years, already accounting for 2.44% of the GDP.
It is now home to one-fifth of the world’s top 25 academic institutions, and its share of authorship in high-quality papers has increased year on year. China has more than 1,500 international R&D centres and launches 71,000 international collaborative R&D projects every year (18.6% of the world total).
China is responsible for the largest number of research publications and patents, and has an R&D workforce of over 5 million people.
China is also an innovation powerhouse. It is the largest source of international patent applications filed via the PCT system. It is currently placed 11th in the Global Innovation Index.
According to Elsevier, China is now the UK’s second biggest single-country partner for collaborative research, after the US. Collaboration with China produces world leading joint research and innovation. UKRI-funded research with China has a field-weighted citation impact of 2.7, nearly 3 times higher than the global average and well above the average citation impact in the UK.
China’s research and innovation landscape is hugely diverse and complex. UKRI recognises the risks and challenges and inherent in engagement and takes steps to help researchers and businesses manage these risks.
Our programme, trusted research and innovation, aims to support cross-sector campaigns that protect all those working in our thriving and collaborative international research and innovation sector.
More resources are available from partners including:
- guidance on overseas business risk with China from the Department for International Trade
- advice for digital and tech businesses from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Find funding opportunities
If you’re a researcher or business in China or the UK, you can search for international funding opportunities. These include:
- schemes to support international research collaborations
- innovation support for businesses working with overseas partners
- exchanges and networking schemes for doctoral students and researchers
You can also find out about how UKRI supports international research and innovation collaborations.
Get travel information
GOV.UK has the latest information for researchers and innovators who travel between China and the UK.
If you are a China-based international researcher or innovator, you can also find out more about getting a visa to work on research in the UK.
British Embassy Beijing
11 Guang Hua Lu