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December 20th, 2011
UK and Chinese Geospatial Experts Launch New Joint Centre

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After several months of preparation, a new Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre has been launched formally in Beijing. It will be run jointly by NASG, China’s National Administration for Survey, Mapping and Geoinformation — through its academic arm the Chinese Academy of Survey and Mapping (CASM) — and The University of Nottingham. The Centre will develop geospatial information research to solve key scientific issues for both countries. Its main site is at the China Surveying and Mapping Innovation Base in Beijing. A UK presence is being prepared at the Nottingham Geospatial Building in the UK.

This new joint venture will promote innovation and technology transfer, leadership training, and staff and student exchange. It will explore funding opportunities and new project work, integrating resources to support long-term collaboration; and it will act as a world-leading incubation centre to realise beneficial combinations of research and development, production and commercialisation.

The University of Nottingham signed an agreement with the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping in June 2011 in Nottingham. The Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre builds on eight years of collaborative work in this field and involves several distinguished Chinese partners.

A Chinese-British Board will agree joint strategy for the Sino-UK Geospatial Engineering Centre. Its Director is Professor Jixian Zhang, President of CASM, and Dr Xiaolin Meng, Nottingham’s Group Leader in Positioning and Navigation Technologies, is UK Director and one of four Vice-Directors.

At the launch, Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Engagement and Knowledge Transfer at The University of Nottingham, said: “The University’s relationship with the Chinese Academy of Survey and Mapping (CASM) and the recently re-named National Administration for Survey, Mapping and Geoinformation (NASG) dates back eight years. 

“We have a shared ambition — to create a Sino-UK centre of excellence that will accelerate the delivery of our vision. It represents the collaboration between China and UK in areas of leading research and development. We aim to benefit both parties and strengthen the ties between UK and China’s high technology industries.”

This new joint venture will focus on joint fundamental and applied research in geospatial sciences, especially frontier studies, addressing key issues faced by both countries. It will enable much greater collaboration between partners.

During the past eight years, high-profile projects have been delivered by researchers from Nottingham and CASM with support from EU, UK government, Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and The University of Nottingham. 

The establishment of this Centre represents not only collaboration between Nottingham and CASM; it includes contributions from organisations such as the China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT), Wuhan and Tongji Universities, and industry — also further developing national collaboration through NASG.

Building on existing MOUs, initial research scope will include Earth observation; applications of 3S (GNSS, RS and GIS) for engineering, environmental and disaster monitoring; emergency management; geospatial data acquisition and processing; intelligent transportation systems and services; location-based services; precision agriculture; and geomatics.

There is continued growing demand for The University of Nottingham, through its renowned Nottingham Geospatial Institute (formerly the Institute of Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy), to run training annual courses for Chinese geospatial practitioners and managers.

The University of Nottingham has been NASG’s sole overseas executive training base since 2009. Dr Xiaolin Meng led two one-week courses this year, and there are already requests for three courses next year from NASG, Zheijang and Anhui provincial governments.
This launch marks one of several successful outcomes of last week’s mission to China, the first to be coordinated by The University of Nottingham’s new Asia Business Centre. The Asia Business Centre supports innovation partnerships and knowledge-transfer programmes between its campuses in Asia.

It identifies and develops industrial R&D projects in Asia, contracting research for Research and Graduate Services and the International Office. It will also develop training and internships in the UK and for The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) and The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC).

A high-level Asia Advisory Board is being created to influence and leverage engagement with Asia. Meeting on a twice yearly basis, the board will develop corporate, philanthropic, student employment and mobility links throughout the region.

In parallel, a new Nottingham Asia Network for academic staff will link the University’s campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia, building business, education and research collaboration.

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) was the first Western university to open in China, in 2004, and now has more than 5,000 students. All degree programmes are taught in English and students receive a British-style education and UK degrees from The University of Nottingham.

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