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RCUK strengthens world-leading research collaboration with Brazil

26 September 2012

As a result of groundbreaking UK-Brazil research collaboration, Research Councils UK (RCUK) is today (26 September 2012) extending its agreement with the Research Council for São Paulo, FAPESP, to build on the success of the partnership over the last three years.

Representatives from RCUK and FAPESP will sign the extension to the agreement in São Paulo to mark the achievements of the pioneering research partnerships between the two countries, which are tackling global challenges such as food security and climate change. This success in cutting-edge research partnership has resulted in both organisations pledging to strengthen links further and continue this important work for another three years.

The signing ceremony is taking place as part of the high-level trade mission to Brazil where ministers and other world leaders are discussing education, science and innovation, as well as global issues, foreign policy and Olympic cooperation.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “Brazil is an increasingly important research nation so it’s vital we strengthen our relationship wherever possible. Thanks to this groundbreaking agreement, leading researchers from both our countries will work together to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet, like food security and climate change.”

The three-year Memorandum of Understanding was first signed by RCUK and FAPESP in September 2009 to open up opportunities for UK and Brazilian researchers to work together across disciplines in an open and flexible way. It allowed them to apply for funding through a single application and peer review process, removing some of the barriers facing international research collaboration.

RCUK International Champion Professor Paul Boyle, who is signing the agreement on behalf of RCUK, said: “RCUK regards international cooperation as being vital to our role in enhancing and stimulating the research we support in the UK. Bringing the best minds together is essential for advancing science and Brazil is a highly valued partner for us. Our partnership with FAPESP demonstrates our commitment to widening opportunities for researchers and we are delighted to be extending this agreement. We look forward to many more productive years of supporting world-class UK and Brazilian researchers to work together on excellent research. ”

Under this agreement, in 2010 and 2011, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and FAPESP jointly funded three research projects to address critical gaps in knowledge about the carbon cycle and how to manage the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human health. NERC and FAPESP have built on this collaboration in 2012 by launching a jointly funded programme on biodiversity and ecosystem services in human modified tropical forests, which will provide knowledge to improve forest management practices.

As part of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Sustainable Bioenergy Centre, researchers at the University of York are working with the University of Sao Carlos to discover new enzymes and associated proteins for lignocellulose digestion from rotting cereal straw and sugar cane. This will not only help broaden our fundamental understanding of this process, but will also provide novel activities for research and industrial applications for the biofuel and biorefinery industries.

Additionally, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will now facilitate scientific cooperation between social science PhD students in the UK and the State of São Paulo via the ESRC International PhD Partnering Initiative. This scheme aims to develop institutional links between the ESRC’s network of Doctoral Training Centres and Centres of Social Science Excellence overseas. The focus of the initiative is to build sustainable links between institutions through their PhD students and respective supervisions alongside a committed institutional support framework.

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Further information

Katie Clark
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Katie Clark

Notes to editors

  1. 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. RCUK and FAPESP first signed the agreement in September 2009. Visit for further information.

  2. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    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).