Home > Independent Innovation

Reform to boost technology innovation

Post Time:2017-02-27 Source:China Daily European Weekly Author:Wang Dongjing、Chen Qiqing Views:
Prospect of profit is the best motivation for driving forward the new ideas essential to boosting the economy

The Chinese government has put technology innovation high on its agenda over the past few years and has made many achievements.

The country's investment in technology has been growing quickly. In 2015, its entire spending on research and development reached 1.42 trillion yuan ($210 billion; 190 billion euros; 170 billion), second in the world. It has 3.95 million R&D researchers - the most of any country globally.

China approved more than 1 million patents for inventions in 2016.

China has also made major scientific and technological achievements in many sectors, including manned spacecraft, deep-sea manned submersibles and supercomputing. Of the 180 hot and emerging research topics globally in 2016, China performed well in 30 of them, the second-best performance in the world, behind the United States.

Technology has also been boosting economic development. The contribution ratio of scientific and technological advancements to economic and social development increased to 55.3 percent in 2015, while in 2010 it was only 50.9 percent.

Moreover, the technology innovation system has also been improving consistently, as the government has taken many steps to reform it.

But there are still some problems to solve, compared with some highly innovative countries.

China's innovative ability is still relatively weak. It has been bringing in technologies - and innovations on existing technologies - but hasn't put much focus on the invention of new technologies. This leads to the situation that China relies on other countries for some core technologies.

For example, in the electronics and information industry, about 80 percent of high-end chips and about 90 percent of basic software are imported.

Meanwhile, China lacks innovative talent, especially at the high end. The country's education system focuses on cultivating knowledge-based talent, but there is a shortage of innovative talent, especially high-level scientists and technologists.

The technology talent's abilities have not been fully exerted yet, and the ratio of technology achievements that have been put into commercial use is still low. In the past few years, as China has invested more in technology, many academic achievements have been made, but many of them have not been turned to commercial use.

China now wants to speed up its technology system reforms by breaking down all barriers to innovation. Based on a series of talks by President Xi Jinping, there are two focuses for reform in the technology sector: innovation in finance and improving incentives.

At present, China invests a lot in technology development, but projects that are worthy of substantial investment get little money, while others receive ongoing investment. It shows that the current allocation of capital has some problems that need solving. I think the main principle for reform should be making the market an important force for allocating resources, under the supervision of the government. Different kinds of projects need to be treated differently.

For those technologies that are of key importance for the country, and that are unable to profit in the marketokace, government should invest.

But for applied technologies whose research achievement can be commercialized, it could be transferred through the market, or be put into commercial use and turned into real products. So this kind of investment could mainly be invested by the companies or through social capital.

The government should open more sectors to social capital, such as railways, telecom and electricity, and also boost the integration of technology and finance.

China should also create more incentives for technology innovation. Technology innovation has a long industrial chain comprising government, companies, research institutions and researchers. It is only when all the parties in the chain are motivated that technological innovation will be boosted.

The Chinese government now has strong motives for technology innovation, as using innovation to promote development has become a strategy for the country. But to activate the companies, research institutions and research fellows, an effective incentive system is needed.

The motivation for companies to innovate is profit, so the government should make a good market environment for fair competition and strengthen IPR protections, making sure that companies' innovation will be profitable.

China should also pay more attention to researchers, encouraging them do great things but also reward them with good career and good pay, so that they enjoy proper profit from their research achievements.

There are several other issues that technology system reforms should deal properly with:

First, with its strategy of technology development, the government should have a global perspective. It needs to see the trend of world technology development and make proper plans for China. So it is important for China to use innovation resources both domestically and overseas. China should have more communication and cooperation with the outside world in technology innovation, bring in the best resources, integrate with the global innovation network and attract leading global talent.

Second, the country should improve the top-level design of its innovation strategy. China has put forward many different development strategies and incentive policies in different sectors, and these strategies and policies are not well connected with each other. So it is important that China make all these policies go with one another and help one another. When many resources are scattered in different systems and departments, low efficiency is the result.

Third is to strengthen protection for intellectual property. China should have a complete set of laws and regulations to protect the intellectual property rights of companies.

Last but not least, China should speed up the transfer of technologies into commercial use, which could then boost the economic and social development. In the past two years, China has made laws to push forward the transformation; the next step is to better carry out the policies and make the transformation process quicker.

Wang Dongjing is vice-president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee and Chen Qiqing is a member of the academic committee of the International Monetary Institute of Renmin University of China. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
    Related articles

    This article has no related articles!