HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 cc157-8W
Mr. Vaz

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps she is taking to promote international co-operation in scientific research. [30474]

Mr. Battle

International co-operation in scientific research is of vital importance for the health of the domestic science base, and is an important component in our export promotion, inward investment, developmental and diplomatic efforts world-wide. For this reason, scientific co-operation is promoted by a wide range of governmental and non-governmental agencies. The Office of Science and Technology plays a key role in bringing a high-level strategic focus to these activities. In Europe, I am particularly keen to see continued vigorous participation by UK researchers in the EU's Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. In 1996, 15 per cent. of new partnerships established in the Fourth Framework Programme involved UK teams, more than those of any other country. I am also very pleased that we were able, at the EU Research Council on 12 February, to secure a common position on the structure, content and management of the Fifth Framework Programme. This should provide a good basis for continuing strong UK participation in the future. Beyond Europe, recent DTI initiatives include, for example, the strengthening of science and technology links with the Russian Federation and the negotiation of an agreement with Brazil, the establishment of a joint £600,000 fund to support scientific collaboration with the Republic of Korea, and a £500,000 programme of post-doctoral researcher exchanges with Australia.