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New hub to build on Cardiff’s research profile in Europe

21 January 2015

European Flags

A body representing scientists and scholars from across Europe, including fifty-two Nobel Laureates, has announced its intention to establish a base within the University.

Academia Europaea (AE), a non-governmental pan-European organisation with over 3000 members in fields from mathematics to social sciences, is to open a Knowledge Hub in the Welsh capital.

A knowledge hub is a centre for the exchange of knowledge, support, development and ideas.

The new hub, set to launch later this year, will provide a facility for raising awareness of Welsh universities' research excellence in order to stimulate new collaborations, inward investment and networks of expertise across Europe.

It will also serve to encourage links between other AE Knowledge Hubs operating in Wroclaw, Barcelona and Bergen, while facilitating partnerships between Welsh HE institutions and the Learned Society Wales.

It is envisaged that the Hub will develop a range of high-quality international activities including for example: summer schools, conferences, workshops and interdisciplinary project based initiatives.

The announcement came at a lecture given yesterday evening by the newly-elected President of Academia Europaea, Professor Sierd Cloetingh, who spoke of the challenges and opportunities confronting European science.

Examples of big European research collaborations, the "crucial" role of European Science Funding, and the AE's role in the 'European Agenda' were among the topics covered by Professor Cloetingh in his talk.

The lecture, entitled 'Challenges and opportunities for science in Europe: perspectives from ERC and Academia Europaea', was delivered in the Cardiff School of Biosciences – home to two Nobel Prize winners: Sir Martin Evans and Professor Robert Huber.

Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, Cardiff Professor Julie Williams, said:

"I'm delighted that the prestigious Academia Europaea has chosen to establish one of its knowledge hubs at Cardiff University. This announcement is further proof of the global perspective of Wales' research community - according to a recent report by Elsevier, our researchers collaborate internationally more often than their peers elsewhere in the UK - and underscores the growing reputation of the university, which was demonstrated so impressively by its outstanding performance in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). International recognition is important in building an even more successful research base in Wales and the Welsh Government intends to support future developments in this area."

President of Academia Europaea, Professor Sierd Cloetingh, said:

"Academia Europaea is looking forward to working closely with Cardiff University, in order to establish an effective Knowledge Hub, which will complement its existing Knowledge Hubs in Wroclaw, Barcelona and Bergen. I am convinced this will be to the mutual advantage of Cardiff University and the Academy by creating valuable new links between the Universities in Wales, as well as the Learned Society of Wales, and Europe at large."

Sierd Cloetingh is a Professor of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University and was elected to become a member of Academia Europaea in 1994. Membership to the body is by invitation only.

Academia Europaea was established in 1988 with the purpose of improving public understanding of science, providing independent advice and increasing the mobility of scholars within Europe.

Chief among its current aims are to promote a wider appreciation of the value of European scholarship and research; to make recommendations to national governments concerning matters affecting science and scholarship in Europe; and to encourage interdisciplinary research in all areas of learning.

Cardiff University recently leapt to fifth in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) based on the quality of its research, rising 17 places since 2008, making it the fastest rising Russell Group University.

Independent panellists assessed that 87% of the University's submitted research was world-leading or internationally excellent.

Professor Ole Petersen, director of the School of Biosciences, is to take up the post of Academic Director for the Knowledge Hub.

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