SULSA and The Scottish Government were honoured to welcome Minister President Malu Dreyer, her Minster for Science and Health Mr Clemens Hoch, and a delegation of ministry representatives and academics from the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Tuesday 18th April 2023. 

Delegation Visit

The Scottish Government and Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) were honoured to welcome Minister President Malu Dreyer, her Minster for Science and Health Mr Clemens Hoch, and a delegation of ministry representatives and academics from the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Tuesday 18th of April 2023. This visit celebrated the collaborative work between Scotland and Rhineland-Palatinate in the areas of languages and teaching, life sciences and biotechnology, and energy.

Germany is the UK’s largest European collaborator which accounts for 5.9% of internationally collaborative outputs. To ensure that this fruitful relationship is maintained, the Scottish Government and the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate signed a declaration of intent in 2021 which has enabled collaborative projects such as the First Scotland – Rhineland-Palatinate Conference in Life Sciences and Biotechnology and subsequent funding call for research exchanges jointly awarded by the Scottish Government, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Science and Health, and SULSA. SULSA-RLP awardees from this first round of funding, Dr Louis Dwomoh, Inga Schmidt, Dr Aida Cardona and Dr Angelo Victoria, were a key focus of this visit. These Early Career Researchers were able to share updates on their collaborative research projects with the German delegation and multiple German news outlets.

During this visit, SULSA Chair, Prof Michael Barrett announced a second round of research exchange funding for life sciences researchers to travel to university research institutes in Rhineland-Palatinate to complete collaborative research projects. This is a huge step towards continued bilateral mobility between Scotland and Germany, something that has been stunted as a result of post-Brexit negotiations.

Whilst in Scotland, the Rhineland-Palatinate delegation have also had the opportunity to visit the University of Glasgow, University of Edinburgh, and the University of St Andrews, as well as some famous Scottish attractions, to discuss opportunities for strategic collaborations and partnerships in the areas of biotechnology, medicine, healthcare, hydrogen energy, and teaching.

Minister Graeme Dey, Minister for Higher and Further Education and Minister for Veterans for the Scottish Government, met with the international delegation and had this to say:

“Scotland is a welcoming and outward looking nation which highly values international research partnerships. I am therefore delighted that our joint life sciences collaboration fund with Rhineland-Palatinate and SULSA will run for another year.” 

“This continued collaboration will ensure that we build on our mutual strengths in a number of important areas of life science and biotechnology research, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.”

SULSA, representing students and researchers from across 12 Universities in Scotland, is all too aware of the need to support network building and knowledge exchange at an international level. SULSA project Manager Dr Ally Hughes, who has been leading this collaborative project, had this to say:

“There is a real worry amongst researchers in Scotland about research funding and becoming isolated from the EU. This work has allowed us to create networking opportunities for researchers in Scotland and Rhineland-Palatinate through our online conference in 2022, research exchange funding call, our international coffee break programme, and our multidisciplinary matchmaker scheme supported by Research Innovation Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council. These initiatives go a long way to ensuring successful internationally collaborative outputs continue with our German partners.” 

Rhineland-Palatinate biotech giants BioNTech were responsible for bringing us the mRNA COVID vaccine which saved millions of lives worldwide throughout the pandemic. It is with great pride that we can call Rhineland-Palatinate a strategic partner of SULSA and we are excited to continue to work with them, to bring together the research excellence in Scotland and Rhineland-Palatinate, facilitating networking events for early career researchers and forging collaborative relationships which will help us tackle pressing issues in medicine and healthcare.

The second round of funding will launch on 22nd May with an online networking event following in early June to support academics in forging new connections and creating collaborative proposals.

Additional Information

For further information please contact SULSA Director Alison.McIntosh@glasgow.ac.uk