Dunedin Renamed Shangedin, Shanghai of the South

The University of Otago has secured a groundbreaking relationship with a Chinese University, which is likely to grant access to China’s lucrative medical research sector. Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University consistently ranks among the top five universities within mainland China and after signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the University in 2009, the two parties have secured a more specific “relationship agreement” this month.

Critic spoke with Research and Enterprise Office Director Gavin Clark, who was part of the Delegation group who signed the agreement in a week-long trip to Shanghai. He said the relationship between the universities and sister cities will benefit from the agreement by providing a “facilitated route to partnering in research and development with universities and companies in China.”

Clark said that the next step is an “in-depth project discussion” in which “a subset of Otago professors with specialist expertise in near-market fields” will visit Jiao Tong University in August. Clark anticipates that the long and short term gain for Otago will help to raise research and development funding from the Government and industry, and will help create high-quality research jobs. In the long term, the partnership is anticipated to give the University and Otago companies “enhanced access to large Chinese markets.”

The immediate opportunities that the agreement provides for will be in areas such as Translation Medicine, including “turning medical discoveries into drugs and services to enhance patient care and lower health costs.” Clark said that Jiao Tong University is investing in a New Translation medicine facility, which will strengthen Otago’s existing endeavours in this area. “There is also strong potential to capture synergies between Jiao Tong University’s food security and engineering centre and Otago’s strengths,” said Clark.

According to the ODT, further negotiations were also discussed with Quingdao University, also on China’s east coast. Financial assistance for establishing a new marine research centre on Dunedin’s waterfront appears to be a possibility and would provide a replacement for the Portobello aquarium, which closed to the public in 2012. DCC chief executive Dr Bidrose made it clear that the DCC is not interested in being part of a joint venture, which would develop the facility, and the offer was passed on to the University. Dr Bidrose said Quingdao University’s involvement in a Dunedin marine science centre had not been discussed in detail, but is another indication of China’s search for economic development opportunities in Dunedin.
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Thomas Raethel.