Leading Australian and UK universities forge landmark Strategic Alliance on Research and Innovation
The United Kingdom and Australia’s leading research universities have signed a formal agreement to boost two-way research collaboration and innovation between the two countries.
The Australia-UK Strategic Alliance on Research and Innovation is a commitment to research collaboration between the UK’s Russell Group of 24 research-leading universities and Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8), which comprises eight of the country’s most prominent research-intensive institutions.
The signing of the agreement in September follows a series of dialogues between the two groups and aims to leverage opportunities opened up by the December 2021 Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) to boost commercial activity and innovation and build partnerships in areas of sensitive research.
Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of The Russell Group, said of the new partnership: “Strengthening collaborations between our universities will benefit science, research and innovation in both our countries, will enhance UK-Australia resilience in an uncertain world and boost prospects for sustainable economic growth.”
The alliance partners will collaborate on shared national priorities and complementary world-leading research strengths such as in AI, social sciences, clean tech and health.
Areas of research collaboration and engagement will also focus on key advanced capabilities and priorities identified under Pillar II of AUKUS, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the UK and the USA.
Key research areas and advanced capabilities identified under AUKUS include:
- Artificial Intelligence and autonomy
- Quantum technologies
- Undersea capabilities
- Advanced cyber capabilities
- Innovation and information sharing
Benefits of a UK-Australia Research Alliance
International cooperation in research is essential in a competitive knowledge and technology-driven global economy. The new alliance has far-reaching potential benefits, not only for the UK and Australia but also for closer collaboration with other major research funding programmes like Horizon EU.
Hailing the benefits of the alliance, Vicki Thomson, Chief Executive of the Group of 8 said:
“We are delighted to be announcing this new Strategic Alliance between the Group of 8 and the Russell Group. Although our institutions are on the other side of the globe from each other, our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the enormous potential of “24-hour science” to be a real point of distinction to collaborations between UK and Australian universities.”
Highlighting the benefits of bringing together the “high-quality, world-class research” conducted in the universities involved in the alliance, Ms Thomson said the partnership will “address the global challenges we face, such as climate change, food and water security, global pandemics, and national security issues.”
The alliance brings together a vast knowledge exchange community from both nations and will power technological innovation that addresses global challenges and boosts bilateral trade, investment and commercialisation activities.
Research focus on AUKUS-related key capabilities is also a top priority in protecting national security and a core objective of the alliance is to work together to protect sensitive research from complex global threats.
In discussions leading up to the agreement, the partners also pledged commitment to exploring reciprocal schemes for exchange and funding options to support research in a flow of postdoctoral researchers between the two countries.
“People and ideas will be at the heart of our economic recovery and future growth, so we’re excited to work with our Go8 partners in Australia to explore how the Free Trade Agreement could help bring down barriers to talent flow and enhance research and commercial activity between our two countries,” said Dr Bradshaw.
Who are the Russell Group and the Group of Eight?
The Russell Group is the UK’s representative body for world-class, research-intensive universities. The 24 Russell Group members produce 68 per cent of the UK’s research activity, support a quarter of a million jobs across the UK and generate almost £87billion a year for the economy.
The Group of Eight (Go8) represent Australia’s research-leading universities and includes the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia, Monash University, the University of Queensland and UNSW Sydney.
The eight members of the Go8 account for more than 70 per cent of Australia’s university research activity and, combined, spend around A$6.5 billion on research each year.