The nation’s largest maker of rolling stock, CSR Corp Ltd, said on May 12 that it will set up a joint research and development center with three universities in the United Kingdom to support its “going global” strategy.
On behalf of the group, CSR Sifang Rolling Stock Co Ltd signed a cooperation agreement in Birmingham with the Imperial College London, University of Southampton and University of Birmingham to establish the China-UK Joint Research and Development Center for Rail Transit Technology.
The center will conduct research into new technologies, materials, structures and processes for high-speed rail systems, CSR said.
Funding for the center will come from CSR and the universities. CSR Vice-president Wang Jun declined to disclose the total cost of the facility, but said that the budget for an individual research project would be about 2.5 million pounds ($3.92 million).
Wang said at the signing ceremony that the center will support CSR’s sustainable development. “The center will serve as a cornerstone for CSR to build an international open R&D platform and innovation mechanism.”
Going global and exporting advanced railway equipment are top priorities of CSR, which is in the process of merging with competitor CNR Corp Ltd. The combined entity will become the world’s biggest rail company by sales.
“To realize our vision of going global, we need to put the improvement of technology at the top of our agenda and cooperate with world-class universities to obtain as many technology resources as possible,” Wang told China Daily.
The company has a three-pronged strategy for globalization: Consolidating its international resources, employing world-class talent and building up an international platform for growth.
The company has also lined up other international R&D projects. On May 11, it signed an agreement with the Dresden University of Technology to set up a joint R&D center in Germany. And in November, it set up a China-Thailand Joint High-speed Railway Research Center.
According to CSR, nearly 20 countries, including the UK and Thailand, plan to build high-speed railways representing total investment exceeding $800 billion.
Lin Jianguo, head of the mechanics and materials division in the department of mechanical engineering at the Imperial College London, said that Chinese producers of advanced equipment cannot survive in a competitive global market just by being cheap.
“They need to be better in design and safety, and also have better after-sales service. It is critical for companies like CSR to work with universities around the world to obtain the best technologies they can to become a global company.”
He will be in charge of the new R&D center on behalf of the Imperial College London.
“Once companies become truly global in innovation, they can go to any market they want in the world,” said Lin.