A high-level Chinese delegation has been welcomed to the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park.

The three-man team from the Economic and Commercial Section of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in London enjoyed a three-day tour of the area which included a visit to Chester Zoo and a civic reception at Chester Town Hall.

The prestigious visit was the result of an invitation from the Cheshire Business Leaders group. Designed to strengthen partnerships and explore new opportunities for Chinese investment, the itinerary also included a visit to Bentley Motors in Crewe, Encirc at Elton and Urenco UK Ltd at Capenhurst.

The delegation was welcomed to the Faculty of Science and Engineering facilities at Thornton Science Park by University of Chester Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Wheeler, and the chair of Cheshire Business Leaders Neville Chamberlain CBE.

A tour of facilities at the 66-acre science park, acquired by the university in 2013, was followed by round-table discussions. The talks involved Christine Gaskell, chair of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and senior representatives of a range of leading Cheshire energy businesses including EA Technology, C-Tech Innovation, Peel Environmental, Amec Foster Wheeler and the Boulting Group.

Pictured during the Thornton Research Centre tour (left to right) are Prof Joe Howe, Thornton Energy Institute; Philip Martin, Cheshire Business Leaders (CBL); Andy Duxbury CBL; Chinese delegation members Qiang Li and Hongyong Huang; delegation leader, Minister Counsellor Mr Xu Jin; Paul Vernon, Executive Director of Commercial Operations, University of Chester and CEO of Thornton Research Properties Ltd; former Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Andrew Miller; Neville Chamberlain CBE and Chester University PhD Researcher, Sen Yang
Pictured during the Thornton Research Centre tour (left to right) are Prof Joe Howe, Thornton Energy Institute; Philip Martin, Cheshire Business Leaders (CBL); Andy Duxbury CBL; Chinese delegation members Qiang Li and Hongyong Huang; delegation leader, Minister Counsellor Mr Xu Jin; Paul Vernon, Executive Director of Commercial Operations, University of Chester and CEO of Thornton Research Properties Ltd; former Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Andrew Miller; Neville Chamberlain CBE and Chester University PhD Researcher, Sen Yang

“We have a massive contribution to make to the success of the Northern Powerhouse through our superlative knowledge and achievements in science and energy,” said Mr Chamberlain.

“Closer working relationships with our Chinese colleagues can only accelerate and add value to that process and I’m delighted that Cheshire Business Leaders has been successful in securing this important visit.”

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Mr Jin commented that China is very interested in smart grid and clean energy technologies and that his country is very keen to make further investments in UK into nuclear and tidal energy projects. He added that China was particularly keen to collaborate with the UK on skills training for the nuclear sector.

Professor Tim Wheeler added: “It has been an honour to welcome such an esteemed Chinese delegation to Thornton Science Park, and to have the opportunity to showcase the work of the university, our students and our staff.

“The university is very keen to forge links with Chinese universities and companies. This year we have established our very own University of Chester China Centre, which has been at the forefront in bridging arts, research, education and business collaborations between Chester and China, and we have been making excellent connections with a number of institutions in China, including in Beijing and Shanghai. We look forward to more visits from Chinese universities in the near future.”