Stating, “Science and higher education are the foundation stones of their two nations’ 21st century economies,” U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced their commitment for the two countries to work together to build world leadership in the areas of education, science and innovation.
The jointly released fact sheet by the two leaders stated that working together in these areas “will create jobs and generate new economic opportunities in both countries while tackling some of the most pressing global challenges facing the world today.”
In order to accomplish these goals, they stated that they would increase collaboration between “cutting-edge laboratories, universities, scientific societies, think tanks,[and] government agencies to develop human capital and ensure a strong and agile knowledge base.”
The announcement by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron mentioned various partnerships in science and education which have thus far proven to be mutually beneficial such as the success in university overseas study programs between the two nations as well as the expected success of the “growing partnership” between the UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS).
In February 2011, the Met Office and the NWS signed an agreement which will coordinate space weather alerts between the two nations. In addition, it was announced on Wednesday that the two agencies will build a “combined space weather model” for the purpose of creating better accuracy in weather forecasting through the increased study of upper atmosphere effects on weather.
The fact sheet released on Whitehouse.gov noted several science and innovation areas of research in which President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron agreed that the United States and the United Kingdom will work together: Innovation, Jobs, and Growth, Space Science and Exploration, Terrestrial and Space Weather, Health and Wellbeing, and Clean Energy and Climate Science:
- Innovation, Jobs, and Growth: The U.S. and the UK are two of the world’s most active investors in venture capital. The leaders agreed to work together to ensure that innovative, high-growth businesses have access to venture capital to fund their growth and create highly skilled jobs. The Prime Minister and President also noted their respective countries’ achievements in attracting research and development investment from overseas. They welcomed the decision by Johnson & Johnson’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology and its company Janssen to partner with six leading British Universities to undertake cutting edge neuroscience research.
- Space Science and Exploration: The Prime Minister and President noted that the U.S. and the UK have enjoyed fruitful bilateral cooperation in earth and space science and look forward to new initiatives in these areas and in space exploration. The leaders also acknowledged the significant contributions to understanding our own planet and noted the UK’s important contributions, through the European Space Agency and in collaborations with the U.S., relating to Mars exploration, astronomy, and space physics.
- Terrestrial and Space Weather: In addition to the collaborations detailed above, the Met Office and NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center will establish a second 24/7 space weather forecast office to complement and coordinate the dissemination of actionable space weather information. At this years’ World Meteorological Congress, the two countries have agreed to work together with other international partners to implement a fully operational global space weather warning system. This close engagement will reflect the increasingly international nature of space whilst respecting our separate national priorities.
- Health and Wellbeing: The two leaders endorsed collaboration between world-class longitudinal studies in the U.S. and UK, with the potential to transform our understanding of issues such as childhood obesity, cancer, aging, and emotional wellbeing. The President and PM Cameron also welcomed the involvement of the Economic and Social Research Council in partnership with the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health in the development of a U.S. National Research Council Panel on Measuring Subjective Wellbeing, which has the potential to generate new insights that will directly inform social and economic policies. The two leaders also noted the new program of joint research on the ecology of infectious diseases.
- Clean Energy and Climate Science: The two leaders agreed on the importance of continued collaboration and concerted international effort in clean energy and climate science. They expressed their strong support for the next Clean Energy Ministerial, which will take place in London in 2012. They endorsed the announcement of UK co-funding of the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education program in the area of Sustainable Materials for Energy, agreeing that sustainability should be a key consideration when making choices among competing energy technology options. The U.S., through its Department of Agriculture (USDA), will continue working with the UK as a part of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases to address mitigation of greenhouse gases from croplands, livestock production systems, and paddy rice, while enhancing food security. In addition, the UK and U.S. entities are engaging African and Asian developing countries in the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project to better understand the implications of climate change on food production and food security around the world and to develop adaption strategies. They emphasized the importance of data sharing and open science data policies that support climate research and modeling.