Successful Cases

Successful Cases
Homepage > Successful Cases
 

How China Is Aiming to Win the Innovation Game

Hamsa Thota
                                      Posted by the JITT May 28, 2009                                                 

China’s national goal is to become a nation of innovation by 2020. At a recent technology transfer conference in Nanjing, I learned how China is investing in high-technology research and development projects and business incubators to build its capabilities in technological innovation. China is investing in areas of interest to the agribusiness industry and other emerging high-tech industries. I will focus here on China's interests in the agribusiness industry.

China is investing in its technological future in three major ways. First, it is inviting to China foreign organizations with intellectual property (IP) in technologies that are in demand by Chinese industry, and it is facilitating the process of transferring those technologies to Chinese companies and commercializing them. Second, it is inviting foreign experts in areas of interest to China to government-organized conferences and using these conferences as forums for the exchange of the latest scientific knowledge and technological innovations with Chinese academic, industry, and governmental leaders. And third, it is using innovation parks to incubate entrepreneurial companies— both Chinese and foreign owned— and build China’s capabilities for successfully commercializing new and innovative technologies. I believe these three initiatives are positioning China to assume global technological leadership in selected industries by 2020.

In November 2008, I attended and spoke at the First China Jiangsu Conference for International Technology Transfer & Commercialization (CITTC), held in Nanjing (an invitation arranged by the Chinese Consulate in Chicago). The conference featured seven concurrent workshops, addressing international technology transfer, biotechnology and medicine, nanotechnology and new materials, equipment manufacturing, new energy and environmental protection, modern agriculture, and information technology. At the work-shop on international technology transfer, I made a presentation titled “How to Win the Innovation Game: Imperatives for Chinese Executives.”

A CLEAR MESSAGE

During the conference I realized that Chinese officials were working diligently to reassure the international delegates about China’s commitment to honoring and enforcing IP rights in China. Without such continuing reassurance and credible enforcement, China’s efforts to achieve technological innovation through international collaboration will not be successful. So the Chinese are eager to protect IP rights in technologies of interest to them because offering such protection is in their national interest. The message that the Chinese will protect IP rights was delivered loud and clear to about three hundred foreign delegates and an equal number of Chinese industry and government delegates. The message was further reinforced during a visit to the China Suzhou Innovation Park, a nonprofit scientific service institute that promotes the transformation of scientific achievements, nurtures high-tech enterprises, and provides comprehensive services for innovators.

The CITTC was sponsored by the Department of International Cooperation and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China and by the Department of Science and Technology of Jiangsu Province. Itwas organized by the Jiangsu Center of International Technology Transfer (JITT), a newly established nonprofit public service organization dedicated to technology transfer. From 2006 to 2008, JITT provided 6,200 technical services for companies in Jiangsu Province, trained about 35,000 technicians, hosted about 350 seminars, evaluated 35,000 research project proposals, and held more than 70 technological exhibitions and 30 important echnology-match activities. It became clear to me that the international technology transfer initiative is focused, goal-driven, and led by collaborative city, provincial, and national governments.


NATIONAL PRIORITY

In building its technological capabilities for innovation, China has embraced collaboration with international technology partners as a national priority. It has created structures of governmental agencies and processes, built research and commercialization facilities for incubating companies, and allocated resources to identify technologies needed by Chinese industry.

The newly created governmental agencies are empowered to reach out to international organizations with the potential to bring in-demand technologies into China. It is envisioned that the technology transfer process will occur through technology collaboration projects, joint ventures with local companies, relocation of foreign research and development companies into science parks, and entrepreneurial companies started by returning Chinese scholars, experts, and scientists or their foreign counterparts. During the conference, Chinese companies and foreign collaborators agreed on thirty-eight cooperative projects.

The Nanjing conference covered a broad range of scientific and technological fields, including issues relevant to the agribusiness industry. The workshop on modern agriculture covIn building its technological capabilities for innovation, China has embraced collaboration with international technology partners as a national priority. It has created structures of governmental agencies and processes, built research and commercialization facilities for incubating companies, and allocated resources to identify technologies needed by Chinese industry. The newly created governmental agencies are empowered to reach out to international organizations with the potential to bring in-demand technologies into China. It is envisioned that the technology transfer process will occur through technology collaboration projects, joint ventures with local companies, relocation of foreign research and development companies into science parks, and entrepreneurial companies started by returning Chinese scholars, experts, and scientists or their foreign counterparts. During the conference, Chinese companies and foreign ollaborators agreed on thirty-eight cooperative projects. The Nanjing conference covered a broad range of scientific and technological fields, including issues relevant to the agribusiness industry. The workshop on modern agriculture covered topics such as biological protection of plants against diseases, sustainable dairy industries, advanced robotic and crop establishment and control systems, and the integration of landscaping into an agroforestry system. The workshop on nanotechnologies and new materials ranged from general applications to thin film technology and methods for surface modification. And the workshop on new energy and environmental protection covered the production of second- generation diesel fuel from vegetable and animal oils by a one-stage, catalytic process in a trickle-bed reactor and the use of ecological technologies for various types of water treatment.


IMPRESSIVE WORK

On November 7, 2008, I toured the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and its China Suzhou Innovation Park, which encompasses the Suzhou International Business Incubator and the China Innovation Park for Overseas Chinese Scholars. I was very impressed with the infrastructure investments made in Suzhou to support research, development, and business incubation. I was also impressed with Suzhou’s holistic approach to attracting foreign talent as well as returning Chinese scholars, experts, and scientists to live and work in Suzhou.

Suzhou is renowned in China for its quality of life and is also a leading economic city. Suzhou officials say the city is first in China in foreign capital investment, second in industrial output, third in import and export volume, fourth in software output, and fifth in its contribution to the gross domestic product. City officials also report that 130 Fortune 500 companies have invested in 370 projects in Suzhou. The city’s per capita annual income has risen to the equivalent of US$10,000, one of the highest in China. Within a two-hour drive of Suzhou are about 100,000 companies in which foreign investments have been made.

The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park began as a cooperative project with Singapore in 1994. The park is listed as one of the first pilot parks for intellectual property rights protection in China. It has set up a special subsidy fund to encourage companies to apply for IP rights and has tablished an IP protection center to offer one-stop service and an IP rights litigation court to handle disputes related to IP. The Suzhou Venture Group manages capital of US$1.5 billion and has cooperation agreements with venture capital groups in Israel, Silicon Valley, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. It serves as an effective platform for science and technology innovation in China. OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS China is a land of opportunity for collaboration in the agribusiness industry. pportunities exist in modern agriculture methods, applications of nanotechnology and biotechnology to foods and ingredients, and environmental and wastewater reatment, to name just a few examples. I encourage research and development companies, food industry and university laboratories, and agribusinesses entrepreneurs to look to China for opportunities to collaborate.

 


Hamsa Thota is president of Innovation Business Development, a research and development management consulting firm, and an internationally recognized expert on innovation management. He holds a Ph.D. degree in food science and dairy manufacturing from the University of Georgia and is an alumnus of CCL’s Leadership for Technical Managers program.

 

Copyright © 2009 JITTC - Jiangsu Center of International Technology Transfer
(P) 086-25-85485886 | (F) 086-25-85413153 | jittc@jittc.org 苏ICP备11059022号