Source: EU Reporter, by Colin Stevens
The EU-China Business Association (EUCBA) held a highly successful and interactive webinar on Wednesday 14 October. The subject under discussion was on the importance of research and science co-operation in the delivery of economic recovery.
Gwenn Sonck, the executive director of the EUCBA, explained that “the EU-China Business Association promotes trade and investment between the EU and China and vice-versa.
It unites 19 Chinese business associations from 19 different countries in Europe, representing over 20,000 companies. This webinar is timely because both the EU and China are prioritising investment into research and science. Such investment accounts for 2.5% of Chinese GDP while the EU target for investment in research under Horizon Europe is 3%. The innovation co-operation dialogue that is taking place between the EU and China at this time will also set the framework conditions for this future bilateral relationship.”
Frances Fitzgerald MEP is a member of the European Parliament–China delegation and she is a former deputy Prime Minister from Ireland.
She said that “the research, science and innovation sectors are totally inter-linked. Countries and companies cannot do all the research on their own.
International collaboration is a key element in the delivery of new innovative products and solutions. This is particularly the case when the world is seeking to find a vaccine against Covid-19. Researchers from all over the world must work together to find a secure and trustworthy Covid-19 vaccine.
Openness, transparency, reciprocity and a rules based approach to international trade must underpin the EU-China relationship. But there is clearly a challenging geo-political environment. We are at a crossroads with regard to the EU-China relationship and EU leaders will meet on November 16th next to review EU-China relations.
455 Chinese companies took part in the Horizon 2020 research, innovation and science programme during the period 2014-2020. Chinese companies will continue to participate in Horizon Europe which is the new research, innovation and science framework programme that will run between the period 2021-2027.”
Zhiwei Song is the President of the EU-China Association for innovation and entrepreneurship. He said that “his association is supporting incubators and it is bridging the knowledge gap between the EU and China and between China and the EU.
His organisation is also organising online presentations to promote research mobility from the EU to China and vice-versa. It is participating in European Commission supported programmes such as Enrich and Euraxess. The former initiative furthers research co-operation between Europe and China while the later scheme promotes scientific collaboration in an international context.”
Abraham Liukang is the chief representative for Huawei to the EU institutions.
He said “Don’t believe all the press headlines. Huawei is no stranger to Europe. Huawei has been based in Europe for over 20 years.
Huawei has 23 research centres in Europe and we employ 2,400 researchers in Europe, 90% of whom are local hires. Huawei has been an active participant in research projects under the Horizon 2020 research, innovation and science programme 2014-2020.
Huawei has 230 technology agreements with research institutes in Europe and we have partnerships with over 150 universities in Europe.
Our engagement in Horizon 2020 related to research into improving the quality of digital infrastructure and this included 5G and big data research.
The roll-out of 5G has been politicised and this has had the direct effect of slowing down 5G deployment in Europe.
Huawei takes security issues very seriously and that is why Huawei has a cyber-security evaluation centre in the UK and we have an agreement on security isssues with BSI in Germany.
Huawei wants to engage actively in Horizon Europe and in particular in building the smart networks and services of the future.
Over the next 5 years, Huawei plans to invest 100 million euro into our AI eco-system programme in Europe, helping industry organisations, 200,000 developers, 500 ISV partners and 50 universities. Huawei will work with our partners to shape the AI industry in Europe.
Veerle Van Wassenhove is the Vice-President for R&D and Innovation at Bekaert, a globally leading company with headquarters in Belgium and a strong research foothold in China. She said that “Bekaert’s research operations in China leverage the company’s global innovation capabilities. Together, we are building expertise for both the Chinese market and globally. Covid-19 brought along some difficulties because we, as researchers, want to keep direct contact with our customers in our technology approach, but we manage.
Yu Zhigao is the SVP Technology Rubber Reinforcement and head of the Bardec (R&D center in China). He said that “Bekaert has very strong confidence in China. There is excellent research and technical expertise in China. The company operates 18 sites in 10 cities in China and employs 220 researchers in the Jiangyin R&D center and 250 engineers and technicians in the Engineering site. The Chinese operations contribute to both world class research actions and to achieving the strategies of the company. Our research teams in China create value for our customers.”
Jochum Haakma is the chairperson of the EU-China Business Association.
He said that “the new EU investment screening regulation has only come into force since last Sunday. This means that from now on EU member states will have to consult with Brussels when screening Chinese direct investment measures in strategic sectors. I believe that it would be a very positive development if China and the EU were to agree the terms of a new trade and investment treaty. This is a matter that both sides are actively engaged in at this time. EU leaders will be discussing this important issue too when they convene for their European Council meeting in mid-November.
But the reality is that we do live in a complex world – where trade, politics and security issues at times seem to be inter-linked.
The digital economy is growing faster than the global economy.
And increased activity within the digital economy is going to play a key role in driving economic growth in both Europe and in China. However, one cannot build a strong digital economy without a sound foundation. And this foundation is built by governments in Europe and in China investing strongly in research, innovation and science. It is through advances in both basic and applied sciences that will deliver the innovation that is driving positive change within society today.”