CUHK eNews Aug 2021

Demystify the secret of successful international collaboration

A joint webinar with USYD reveals how successful international partnerships are forged to promote research excellence.

A joint webinar with USYD reveals how successful international partnerships are forged to promote research excellence.

CUHK’s Office of Academic Links (OAL) and the University of Sydney (USYD) came together to host a public webinar, ‘Demystify the secret of successful international collaboration’, in July on how to forge successful teaching and research international partnerships.

Collaborative projects between the two universities are numerous, including projects on advancing research on diabetes, information engineering and integrative medicine. The researchers shared their experiences in building and sustaining global partnerships as well as the opportunities that collaborative projects offer to early-career researchers for developing their global networks.

Speakers from CUHK included Prof. Ronald Ma of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Prof. Alexander Lau of the Hong Kong Institute of Integrative Medicine, and Prof. He Chen of the Department of Information Engineering. Among the speakers from USYD were Prof. Anthony Keech and Prof. Alicia Jenkins of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Dr. Josiah Poon of the School of Computer Science, and Prof. Wanli Ouyang of the School of Electrical and Information Engineering.

A panel chaired by Prof. Mai-har Sham, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) of CUHK, discussed the added value international partnerships can bring and ways to overcome their challenges, among other key issues.


Working towards common goals

The speakers widely acknowledged that common goals and aligned research interests are keys to successful collaboration. They also pointed to the greater synergies and expanded research scope made possible by capitalising on complementary strengths and resources. Dr. Josiah Poon said, ‘The Analytic and Clinical Cooperative Laboratory for Integrative Medicine brings clinicians from CUHK and data scientists from USYD to work together for better healthcare, proving that one plus one is better than two.’

‘My work with USYD on high-performance wireless systems draws on CUHK’s expertise in system building and USYD’s strength in theories,’ Prof. He Chen added. ‘Furthermore, the tools and resources made available by USYD helped accelerate our progress.’

Prof. Ronald Ma highlighted the importance of open and regular communication in a partnership. ‘Building successful collaborations requires much support, commitment, and communication. Frequent contact is vital. We should be open to each other about the challenges and difficulties that we might have.’

For Prof. Wanli Ouyang, international collaboration is especially important for those who are just starting their careers. ‘When you don’t have enough resources and grants because you are new, seek collaboration so you can find more interesting research topics and leverage the profound expertise of your collaborators. When you lack experience in research, seek collaboration and advice from senior researchers who will be able to provide lots of help.’

Prof. Mai-har Sham concluded, ‘International collaboration helps expand your existing research to cover new areas, angles, perspectives, and applications that you will otherwise not think of or be able to access. International collaborations do elevate research achievements.’

The webinar on research partnerships attracted 70 participants from 19 universities and organisations. It was the prelude to a series of joint webinars on how early-career researchers can help to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The first webinar in the CUHK-USYD SDGs Webinar Series, which focused on sustainability challenges, was held on 18 August.


Watch the videos to revisit the webinars


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