October 15, 2020, by Jason Feehily

Anglo-Indonesian scientific alliance meets at University of Nottingham ahead of ministerial visit to UK

One of Indonesia’s leading diplomats, Adam Tugio, has visited the University of Nottingham to help prepare for a top-level ministerial visit from his country to the UK aiming to increase collaboration in the global fight against coronavirus.

A high-level ministerial delegation from Indonesia will be travelling to London this week (13 October) to meet with the UK Government and other partners to discuss global concerns such as fair access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, climate change and ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

Mr Tugio, Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’affaires of the Republic of Indonesia Embassy in London, was invited to Nottingham to lead discussions on the visit at the first meeting of the UK-Indonesia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Sciences (UKICIS), which is dedicated to strengthening scientific collaboration between the two countries.

UKICIS was created to support an agreement for enhanced cooperation on research and innovation, signed by the governments of UK and Indonesia in August 2020. In support of this initiative, Professor Gisli Jenkins and Dr James Dixon updated Mr Tugio on the University of Nottingham’s contribution to COVID-19 research during his visit on Friday 2 October to the University Park Campus. Gisli Jenkins, Professor of Experimental Medicine in the School of Medicine, is playing a key role in a major UK research study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients. Dr Dixon, of the University’s Biodiscovery Institute, is a member of a team of scientists from the University of Notttingham and Nottingham Trent Universty who are to begin clinical trials for a DNA vaccine. Mr Tugio also said Indonesia was interested in emulating the University’s in-house testing service, which is designed to tackle asymptomatic transmission amongst students and staff.

Building resilience

These insights will inform a briefing to the Indonesian ministers by Mr Tugio and his compatriot, Dr Bagus Muljadi, the University of Nottingham’s UKICIS Coordinator, on COVID-19 research conducted by the consortium. Researchers from the University of Nottingham have already been working closely with Indonesian authorities to support the management of COVID-19 in the country, and the ministerial visit on 13 October is set to deepen this collaboration.

Mr Tugio said: “The arrival in the UK of a high-level delegation from Indonesia highlights the commitment of our countries to bring scientists, policy-makers and other stakeholders together to better tackle complex challenges, such as coronavirus and the threat of future pandemics, as well building resilience in the face of climate change. Meeting UKICIS colleagues at the University of Nottingham was invaluable in preparing for this visit, as well as discussing our goals and approaches to further strengthening Anglo-Indonesian scientific diplomacy and collaboration.”

Dr Bagus, who is an Assistant Professor in Chemical and Environmental Engineering and Director of the University of Nottingham’s Indonesia Doctoral Training Partnership, which provides a platform for research and knowledge exchange with the Indonesian government, higher education institutions, and industries, added: “As an Indonesian, I am delighted and proud that my University played host to Mr Tugio and the important first meeting with our UKICIS colleagues.

“UKICIS is a pioneering Indonesian diaspora-led scientific alliance which sets the blueprint for Indonesian new scientific diplomacy. It will be the catalyst for knowledge exchange between the UK and Indonesia.

Dr Bagus Muljadi, the University of Nottingham’s UKICIS Coordinator

He added: “We shared progress reports with our partners from the universities of Warwick and Coventry and, by virtually linking with our Indonesia colleagues, took important first steps in drawing up a memorandum of understanding.”

As well as COVID-19 research, the University’s expertise in the electrification of vehicles is likely to have an impact as Indonesia looks to its UKICIS partners to help develop the sustainable urban transport of the future.

Mr Tugio and the Indonesian Education and Cultural Attaché, Arif Rochman, met the University of Nottingham’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement, Professor Robert Mokaya, together with UKICIS colleagues Professor Mike Shipman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation at Warwick University, and Professor Richard Dashwood, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University.

Facing challenges through partnership

Professor Mokaya said: “Our meeting in Nottingham was highly informative. We helped establish a basis for collaboration between the six founding members of the consortium and took steps towards capturing this in our forthcoming memorandum of understanding.

“By sharing knowledge and expertise, our partners in the UK and Indonesia will be better equipped to face challenges faced by us all. It is heartening that collaborations between UKICIS member universities and stakeholders in Indonesia already have the potential to lessen the impact of the pandemic and we look forward to strengthening these partnerships during the Indonesian ministerial visit.”

UKICIS brings together the best of Indonesian academic talent at the Universities of Nottingham, Warwick and Coventry, together with those at Institut Teknologi Bandung, IPB University and Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia.

The UKICIS advisory board consists of Professor Satryo S Brodjonegoro, President of Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Professor Nizam, Director General of Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Culture, Professor Ali Ghufron Mukti, Chairman of COVID19 research and innovation in the Ministry of Research and Technology.

The consortium’s founding members are supported by the Indonesian Embassy in London, the British Embassy in Indonesia, and the Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology/National Agency for Research and Innovation.

As well as supporting the UK-Indonesia science and technology research and innovation partnership agreement, UKICIS aims develop and enhance Anglo-Indonesian educational, economic and cultural links through outreach activities and community engagement.

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