A pioneering Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today between Research Councils UK (RCUK) (made up of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the 6 other UK research councils) and FAPESP, the Research Council for the State of São Paulo, strengthening existing valuable research links between the UK and Brazil. The MoU will enable Brazilian and UK researchers to apply for funding through a single application and peer review process, removing some of the barriers facing international research collaboration.
Back in June the then AHRC Chief Executive Professor Philip Esler visited Brazil to help facilitate this relationship between the UK research councils and FAPESP and this MoU will offer UK arts and humanities researchers a stronger opportunity to work with their Brazilian colleagues.
Professor Ian Diamond, Chair of RCUK, welcomed the agreement: "This is a fantastic indication of the direction international collaboration is taking within the Research Councils. RCUK is dedicated to promoting the collaboration of best with best, and this agreement demonstrates our commitment to widening opportunities for researchers, so that world-class researchers can work together on excellent research."
Science Minister Lord Drayson, said: "I am delighted that such an important agreement is now in place. Researchers in the UK and Brazil can reap the benefits from collaborating without worrying about having to go through separate application processes. I am looking forward to seeing partnerships between the two countries grow stronger as they continue to share expertise and facilities in tackling international challenges such as food security and climate change."
Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director of FAPESP, who represented Brazil at the signing, said: "Scientists in the State of São Paulo create 50% of the Brazilian scientific articles. Fostering international collaboration is a relevant portion of our strategy. The cooperation agreement signed with RCUK opens exciting possibilities for researchers in São Paulo and the UK to collaborate in an effective manner. The agreement covers all fields of science and we are looking forward to receive outstanding proposals, dealing with fundamental and applied research."
Professor Yadvinder Malhi, who has carried out extensive research in the Amazon, is part of a community of UK environmental scientists with a long history of working with Brazilian colleagues. He presented some of the community's discoveries and ongoing work to attendees, showing how the Amazon forest is responding to global atmospheric change, and to extreme events such as the drought of 2005. This has led to greater understanding of the critical role than Amazonia plays for both the regional and global climate.
Commenting on the MoU, Professor Malhi said: "Our research in the Amazon is already supported by Research Council funding and it's great that this agreement will make it even easier for me and my co-researchers to access the resources we need."
Professor Carlos A Joly, leader of the most effective biodiversity conservation research program in Brazil, BIOTA/FAPESP: The Virtual Institute of Biodiversity, is particularly interested to promote joint research projects to understand better the highly destructive relationship between climate change and biodiversity loss. Having done his PhD at St. Andrews University, Prof. Joly is a testimony of the long standing cooperation between British and Brazilian institutions, which will be fostered in the new era of partnerships that is being established by this MoU.
“In the Thematic Project I am developing along an Atlantic Rain Forest altitudinal gradient, we are already working with British researchers to adapt and develop new equations to estimate forest carbon stocks and changes. But the agreement that is being signed today gives us a fantastic opportunity to broaden the scope of our cooperation and stimulate a more intense exchange of students and research teams”, said Prof. Joly.
Secretary of State, Lord Peter Mandelson, commented: "This is further proof that the strong links between the UK and Brazil continue to grow. Cutting-edge research and innovation are very important areas of co-operation in fostering and deepening this vital and mutually beneficial relationship."
- END -
Emi Spinner, Communications Officer, 0117 9876770, firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
1. The agreement allows UK and Brazil researchers (a joint community of 75,000 academics) to bid for funds from both countries using the UK Research Councils' peer review process, thus avoiding double jeopardy in funding applications. The agreement was first proposed in March 2007 and was finalised following the UK Prime Minister's visit to Brazil in March 2009. In a joint statement, the Prime Minister and President Lula committed the two countries to enhanced collaboration in research. The agreement was brokered by the Science and Innovation Network.
2. FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) is a public foundation, funded by the taxpayer in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, with the mission to support research projects in all fields of knowledge. The foundation works in close contact with the scientific community and all proposals are peer reviewed with the help of area panels composed of active researchers. In 2008 the foundation announced broad research initiatives on Bioenergy and on Global Climate Change.
FAPESP expects to invest approximately £200 million in research projects in 2009. One third of this value goes into fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students. About 55% goes into exploratory academic research, mostly fundamental in nature and 10% is invested in application oriented research, in many cases performed in small businesses or in joint research performed by academia and industry.
3. Research Councils UK is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils; they invest annually around £3 billion in research, covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines from the medical and biological sciences to astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering, social sciences, economics, and the arts and humanities.
The seven UK Research Councils are:
• Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
• Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
• Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
• Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
• Medical Research Council (MRC);
• Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
• Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
4. Professor Yadvinder Malhi
Professor Yadvinder Malhi is a Professor of Ecosystem Science at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, University of Oxford, Programme Leader of the Ecosystems Group at the Environmental Change Institute and the Jackson Senior Research Fellow at Oriel College, Oxford. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of the Atmosphere and Biosphere, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, and at the Institute of the Environment and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). For further information about his research interests please visit his website.
5. About Arts and Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute over a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK