UK-Russia Year of Science & Education 2017

The UK-Russia Year of Science and Education 2017 (YoSE) was agreed between Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last November and officially launched on 27 January in Moscow. The decision – taken at a time of considerable political tensions between our two countries – recognizes that UK-Russia scientific co-operation is growing (collaborations have doubled since 2006) and together we should be doing more to capitalize on our joint scientific excellence.

The UK is now Russia’s 4th largest external partner for joint papers and international citations double in number when UK and Russian scientists publish together. While top fields for collaboration feature traditional Russian scientific strengths such as physics, mathematics, chemistry, geosciences and space, there has also been an increase in joint work in areas identified by Nature in 2016 as ‘rising stars’ such as life sciences.

What YoSE aims to achieve

While the Year aims to open up new opportunities for collaboration and bring more research teams and organisations into the orbit, an important part of it is about celebrating existing partnerships and building upon long-standing scientific links. The Year rolls out a broad programme of events and activities to be delivered by the FCO’s Science and Innovation Network, the British Council, the Royal Society, and other partners.

So this year, five areas in particular will be in focus, namely:

  • Facilitating UK access to Russian scientific excellence through an increased programme of researcher links,
  • Encouraging scientists to work together on common scientific challenges,
  • Supporting Russia’s efforts to internationalise its science by launching a programme for young Russian researchers, running seminars on how to access international journals and encouraging University partnerships,
  • Co-working on key policy challenges including the science of climate and antimicrobial resistance (AMR),
  • Public celebration of our scientific links including a programme of lectures and events.

Here are a few examples of what has been delivered so far:

  • A UK-Russia high-level roundtable on AMR, followed by a visit by Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies,
  • A bilateral UK-Russia workshop on “100 Years of Black Holes” at Chicheley Hall (UK),
  • Academic writing workshops for Russian researchers with the geography ranging from Arkhangelsk to Tuymen,
  • UK-Russia conference on science diplomacy at Moscow State Institute of International relations (MGIMO),
  • Ekaterinburg Science Cafe on ‘‘How Myosin Motors Work and What They Do in Living Cells’’ featuring experts from Cambridge University and the university’s Institute for Medical Research.

Look-forward

  • Arctic: We are working together with Russian scientific community to enhance UK-Russia collaborations on data analysis, permafrost, biodiversity research, climate research and impact of climate change on indigenous peoples. We are working to help launch a UK-Russia Arctic working group to enable more focused cooperation  and intensify young researcher exchanges;
  • Life sciences & Agri-tech: Russia has interest in precision agriculture and the use of UK R&D expertise to develop its agri-sector.  We work with dynamic pharma and medical communities to counter antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and other global health challenges. SIN Russia are exploring opportunities for further engagement, for instance around development of new antibiotics and strengthening clinical pathways.
  • Science Festivals: Russia has a growing interest in science popularisation best practices and innovation in science, from robotics to big data. Several Russian science festivals run across the country throughout the year, including in Moscow and St. Petersburg. SIN Russia are working with the organisers to increase the number of prominent UK speakers and showcase the breadth and depth of UK expertise.
  • Links between UK-Russia institutions:  With the British Council, SIN Russia is exploring potential link-ups between UK and Russian institutions.  During the YoSE the key activity will be an inward mission to Russia of UK Vice Chancellors to identify collaboration opportunities.

 

Contacts

We hope that many of you will be interested in getting involved to explore new opportunities to work with Russian Science or to utilise the Year to celebrate an existing collaboration.  Please contact Gareth Wynn Owen, head of the SIN Russia network, or Elizaveta Utolina, head of the British Council’s Science Team for more information (Gareth.WynnOwen2@fco.gov.uk; Elizaveta.Utolina@BritishCouncil.ru).