Experts from the University of Birmingham today showcased a range of high-profile research investment opportunities to the largest-ever business delegation from Qatar to visit the UK.
The university played a leading role in the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum, which was jointly hosted in Birmingham and London. The event was attended by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Qatar Prime Minister His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox welcomed the Qatar-UK delegation to the Forum, which forms part of the government’s Plan for Britain to help the country trade beyond Europe, allowing UK organisations to showcase high-profile ‘investment-ready’ projects from around the UK and exporters in areas like sport, cyber-security and healthcare.
As part of the Forum, the university mounted an exhibition telling the story of the Birmingham Qur’an. This featured an interactive digital form of the manuscript – one of the world’s oldest surviving examples of this holy work – and allowing Forum guests to explore the text.
Following ongoing discussions with potential partners in Qatar, university representatives showcased investment and partnership opportunities in Birmingham’s research specialisms, including life sciences and low-carbon energy systems.
University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood hosted a private viewing of the manuscript for the two Prime Ministers, as well as senior members of the UK and Qatari delegations. In addition, he delivered a keynote speech at the Forum’s session on education.
Dr Liam Fox said: "Today in Birmingham we are showcasing the UK's strengths and expertise and key investment opportunities in a range of sectors, including education.
"The University of Birmingham, with its expertise in research areas like life sciences and low-carbon energy, can be a vital partner for Qatar and other countries in tackling our shared energy challenges."
Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “For more than a century, the University of Birmingham has thrived by developing innovative solutions to address big issues. As a global ‘civic’ university, Birmingham has a responsibility to enrich the life of people in our home city and the wider world.
“We are honoured to be taking part in the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum and hope that future research partnerships forged here in Birmingham will ultimately benefit communities in Qatar, Britain and around the globe. Our international leadership in life sciences covers medicine, biology, engineering, psychology and social sciences, whilst our expertise in low-carbon energy systems can help both Qatar and the UK tackle the many energy challenges that they share.
“We are determined to connect with the wider Islamic world through our stewardship of the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript and the treasures of the Mingana Collection, building international partnerships that will bring together people of all faiths, cultures and nations.”
The university’s team attended the Forum to share proposals to develop new strategic partnerships with Qatar that will deliver innovation and significant health, economic and social benefit to the State of Qatar, the UK and the city of Birmingham.
Qatar and the UK share many healthcare challenges faced by modern society – including obesity, rare genetic disease, certain cancers and disability following trauma. The University of Birmingham has the expertise to create opportunities for global innovation – particularly in translational research and patient care.
Both countries have many energy challenges in common - in particular, how to prepare energy infrastructure for a future relying increasingly on renewable energy sources for power, transport and cooling needs. The University’s leading role in the Birmingham Energy Capital project demonstrates its expertise in areas such energy storage, thermal technologies and transportation.
The University of Birmingham will also host part of a post-event programme organised by Birmingham City Council and Marketing Birmingham tomorrow (29 March). This will showcase investment and regeneration opportunities in Birmingham, with delegates visiting the Edgbaston campus to learn more about research partnership opportunities in healthcare.
The Forum’s first day in London saw Qatari businesses showcase opportunities that their diversifying economy offers to the UK. Birmingham hosts the second day, at the city’s International Convention Centre, where UK firms will showcase high-profile ‘investment-ready’ projects. Both days are expected to result in a number of landmark agreements amounting to significant levels of new investment, potentially generating billions of pounds across the UK including for the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
The event brings together ministers and senior government representatives from Qatar and the UK including the International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox and the Minister of Finance His Excellency Ali Shareef Al-Emadi. Hundreds of high-profile businesses executives, council leaders and academics attended across the two days.