- Houston, TX and the Chinese city of Suzhou signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to trade and biomedical and biotechnology research, according to the Houston Chronicle and other media reports.
- As part of the MOU, the China U.S. Biotechnology Innovation Center (CUBIC) by the Chinese nonprofit Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI) will open at Houston's Texas Medical Center to help spur investment in both cities. JITRI is one of the top research centers for industrial technology in China with a $300 million research budget and more than 6,000 employees.
- The agreement will also look to strengthen relations between China and Houston, with possible trade missions, other joint efforts and cultural exchanges also on the horizon.
After the devastation wrought on Houston by Hurricane Harvey last year, the city is looking forward while rebuilding its downtown, strengthening its flood defenses and announcing plans for an innovation district “for startups and imaginative endeavors.” It is significant that JITRI is investing in Houston, considering its status as a major research center in China.
It is also significant that CUBIC will locate at the Texas Medical Center, which last month announced plans to host a medical research campus that also includes the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M University Health Science Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. With the Chronicle noting that could open as early as 2022, Houston is primed to become a center for biomedical research.
The partnership comes at a difficult time for U.S.-China relations, with testimony coming earlier this week from business representatives criticizing President Trump’s proposed tariffs as he tries to take a harder line on trade. But the partnership is in keeping with recent sentiments from city leaders like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who have called on cities to lead and innovate where the national government refuses to do so.