The 4th Annual Conference of the ABCP took place from 7th to 8th July, 2023. The Conference was held as a hybrid event with both in-person and online participation, at the University of Manchester and on Zoom, respectively. It provided a platform for academic exchange and university-industry cooperation for members of ABCP and people from other organisations. With the theme of “International and Sino-British Education in the Post-COVID Era”, participants of the Conference discussed opportunities and challenges of scientific research, innovation and educational cooperation, as well as a wide range of research topics in six parallel thematic tracks, covering some important research topics such as climate change, sustainability, AI, public health, and creative industries. The Conference attracted more than 200 participants from different sectors in the UK, China and other parts of the world.

Professor Hua Zhao FREng, President of ABCP (2021-23), Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research & Enterprise of Brunel University, welcomed all participants at the opening ceremony of the Conference. On behalf of the University of Manchester, the local host of the Conference, Professor David Polya also delivered a welcome speech at the opening ceremony.

After the opening ceremony, around the theme of “International/UK-China Educational Cooperation in the Post- COVID-19 Era”, seven invited speakers gave their views on the opportunities, challenges and strategies for Sino-UK/international educational exchanges from different perspectives. They include Lord Browne of Madingley, Co-Chairman of the ABCP’s International Advisory Board; Dr Michael Spence, President and Provost of University College London (UCL); Professor Tieniu Tan, Chair of Council of Nanjing University, China; Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester; Ms Jin Zhang, Minister Counsellor for Education of the Chinese Embassy in the UK; Mr Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi); and Professor Alan Marshall of the University of Liverpool, British Director of the UK-Jiangsu 20+20 World Class University Consortium.

After the seven talks, six more invited speakers delivered wonderful speeches on the theme of “Cooperation between Universities and Enterprises”. They include Ric Parker, Member of ABCP International Advisory Board, former CTO of Rolls-Royce Plc; Professor Qing Liu, President of the National Innovation Centre par Excellence (NICE, 长三角国家技术创新中心) & Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI), China; Professor Zhanfeng Cui FREng, Donald Pollock Professor of Chemical Engineering of the University of Oxford, and Chair of ABCP Council; Professor Simon Collion, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise) of the University of Birmingham; Professor Sai Gu FREng, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (China) of the University of Warwick; and Mr Thomas Clayburn, Senior Adviser, Knowledge Economy – Education Sector Lead of the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC).

In the afternoon of the first day, the delegates participated in five parallel sessions in their respective fields: 1) Advanced Manufacturing and Materials; 2) Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security; 3) Climate Change, Energy and Sustainable Development; 4) Medicine and Public Health; and 5) Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. In these parallel sessions, participants from academia and non-academic sectors not only shared the latest research results and cooperation experiences in the form of special speeches and panel discussions, but also discussed opportunities and challenges for education and industry cooperation in their fields.

The award ceremony of the Annual Conference was grandly held at the banquet in the evening on the first day. ABCP Outstanding Contribution Awards were awarded to four professors: Professor Jianguo Lin FREng, former President of ABCP (2018-21); Professor Sai Gu FREng, former Executive Vice President of ABCP (2018-21); Professor Yike Guo FREng MAE, former Vice President for International Academic Affairs of ABCP (2019-21); and Professor Jihong Wang, former Vice President for Finance of ABCP (2018-21). Certificates were then awarded to prize winners of the ABCP 2022 Annual Conference (which was held online). Through further exchanges and interactions at the banquet, the delegates deepened their mutual understanding and laid the foundation for more cooperation in the future.

The 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ABCP members was held in the morning of the second day (8th of July), co-chaired by Professor Hua Zhao FREng, ABCP’s President (2021-23), and Professor Hongbiao Dong FREng, ABCP’s Vice President and Secretary-General (2021-23). The AGM made a comprehensive summary and review of the work of the ABCP in the previous year, affirmed the achievements of the Association in the past year, and looked forward to the future development and activity plans of the Association. The AGM announced members of the new Standing Management Committee of the ABCP (2023-25): Professor Hongbiao Dong FREng from the University of Leicester as the President of ABCP, Professor Wei Li MAE FBA FAcSS from the University College London (UCL) as the Executive Vice President, Professor Lynda Jiwen Song from the University of Leeds as the Vice President & Secretary-General, Professor Shujun Li from the University of Kent as Vice President for IT & External Liaison, Professor Qihai Huang from the University of Huddersfield as Vice President for Finance, Professor Huabing Yin from the University of Glasgow as Vice President for EDI, Professor Hongming Xu from the University of Birmingham as Vice President for AIGs (Academic Interest Groups), Professor Henry Yi Li from the University of Manchester as Vice President for Events, Professor Huiliang Li from the University College London (UCL) as Vice President for Industrial Liaison & Fundraising, and Professor Tao Chen from the University of Surrey as Vice President for Internationalisation. Dr Wen Wang from the University of Leicester and Dr Wang Liliang from the Imperial College London were appointed Co-Chairs of the newly established Youth Committee of the ABCP.

The subsequent session saw the REF2028 Forum, with a dedicated theme on “Pathway to Impact”, which focused on major changes in the latest UK’s REF (research assessment framework) published in June 2023. Three REF2021 panel members, several ABCP council members and some representatives from the ABCP’s industrial member discussed how to transfer academic research outcomes to real-world applications to create a positive impact on the economy, culture, public policy and services, health, the environment and the improvement of people’s quality of life in the UK and internationally, and guide ABCP members and British Chinese scholars to make  preparations for REF2028, as well as to promote Sino-British cooperation. Such discussions were put in the context of six case studies presented by speakers working on technology transfer in academia or industry.

The activities of the Annual Conference in the afternoon of 8th of July continued online only, in the form of six parallel thematic tracks, including five thematic tracks in the afternoon on the first day and  a new thematic track on Creative Industries, Art and Design. The activities of the six thematic tracks lasted until as late as 6:30pm, marking the successful completion of the Annual Conference.

After the Conference, chairs of all the six parallel tracks in the afternoon selected the following speakers to receive a number of prizes. Congratulations to all the prize winners and thank them for their great contributions to the Conference! Note that Best ECR (Early Career Researcher) Awards were selected from all speakers who were a PhD students or a postdoc, Best Session Chair of Track 6 was selected from all session chairs of that track, and other awards are selected from all speakers of the corresponding track.

Track 1: Advanced Manufacturing and Materials

Research Award: Professor Lu Liu, University of Leicester, UK
Best Presentation Award: Professor Henry Yi Li, University of Manchester, UK
Best ECR Award: Dr Xiao Yang, Imperial College London, UK
Best ECR Award Runner-Runs: Hongyan Wang, Imperial College London, UK; Jianbo Zhang, University of Leicester, UK

Track 2: AI and Cyber Security

Best Contribution Award: Professor Weiru Liu, University of Bristol, UK
Best Presentation Awards of PhD and Postdoc Forum (alphabetic order): Shiqing Liu, PhD Student, Bielefeld University, Germany; Jie Ma, PhD Student, University of Liverpool, UK; Guanxiong Shen, PhD Student, University of Liverpool, UK; Dr Xilu Wang, Postdoctoral Fellow, Bielefeld University, Germany

Track 3: Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability

Research Award 1st Prize: Professor Xin Zhang, University of Sheffield, UK
Research Award 2nd Prize: Dr Yunjie Gu, Imperial College London, UK
Best Presentation Award 1st Prize: Dr Quan Zhou, University of Birmingham, UK
Best Presentation Award 2nd Prize: Dr Minglei You, University of Nottingham, UK
Best ECR Award 1st Prize: Dr Tongtong Zhang, University of Birmingham, UK
Best ECR Award 2nd Prize: Dr Yuanjian Zhang, Loughborough University, UK

Track 4: Medicine and Public Health

ECR Award: Dr Jipeng Yan, Imperial College London, UK
Outstanding Project in Ageing Research: Dr Yuanyan Yin, University of Southampton, UK
ECR Promising Project in Health Research: Dr Kezhi Li, University College London, UK
ECR Inspirational Talk: Dr Jennifer Creese, University of Leicester, UK

Track 5: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Award: Dr Yan Wu, Swansea University, UK
Best Presentation Award: Dr Dongmei Cao, Nottingham Trent University, UK
Best ECR Awards: Dr Haijian Si, University of Cambridge, UK; Dr Zhipeng Zhang, China University of Labor Relations, China

Track 6: Creative Industries, Arts and Design

Research Award: Yunshui Jin, Tongji University, China
Best Presentation 1st Prize
: Dr Yuanyuan Yin, University of Southampton, UK
Best Presentation 2nd Prize: Chenyi Liao, Royal College of Art, UK
ECR Award: Dr Zimu Xu, Cranfield University, UK
Best Session Chair: Dr Mengyi Xu, Cranfield University, UK

We thank all speakers and participants for taking part of the 2023 Annual Conference to make it such a success. Look forward to our next Annual Conference in 2024!

(Contributing editors: Shujun Li, Henry Yi Li, Hongbiao Dong, Haiyue Yuan)