Strengthening public R&D capacity and infrastructures: Although many PRIs became corporate entities as part of the reform of the S&T system in the early 2000s, PRIs still dominate China’s public research and are strongly oriented towards applied and experimental R. The government released the Implementation Plan on Deepening the Reform of the Scientific and Technological System in September 2015 to speed up the building of a national system of innovation, including reporting instruments and an advanced management system for research achievements. The latest round of PRI reforms aims to clarify the roles of the three types of PRIs (commercial innovation, social welfare and basic research) and to establish appropriate governance, management and funding mechanisms to help them fulfill their missions. The Medium- and Long-Term Plan for Key National Technology Infrastructure Construction (2012- 30) aims to develop research infrastructure in the life sciences, environmental science, materials science, space science and other fields.
New sources of growth: China’s competitive advantage as a global manufacturer is faced with a challenge, as Chinese labour costs have increased, and multinationals, including Chinese ones, are increasingly relocating their manufacturing activities to countries with lower labour costs. To address these challenges and to seize the opportunity of the “next production revolution”, China launched “Made in China 2025” in 2015, as part of a 30 year strategy to strengthen China as a manufacturing country. This is the first in a series of national ten year plans, and it focuses on enhancing innovation, product quality and environmental sustainability, optimising industrial structure and developing human resources in Chinese manufacturing. Ten key sectors were targeted for support, including ICT, robotics, agriculture, aerospace, marine, railway equipment, clean energy, new materials, biological medicine and medical devices. The core goal of “Made in China 2025” is upgrading industry through the greater use of digital technology. The “Internet Plus” initiative was launched in 2015 with a view to digitalising major sectors of the economy and building a service-oriented interconnected intelligent industrial ecosystem by 2025, thus making digitalisation an important driver of growth. It aims to develop intelligent factories, improve synchronization over production chains, better customize manufacturing and promote manufacturing as a service. Combined with other policies, this initiative is intended to bring about a “new industrial revolution”.
Technology transfers and commercialization: While a significant share of China’s public research is funded by industry, signalling the existence of sound industry-science co-operation, China’s universities and PRIs are not very engaged in patenting activities. In order to foster collaboration between academia and industry, the government supports the China Industry Technology Innovation Strategic Alliance by financing research- and IP-pool. Under the Law on the Promotion and Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements (revised in 2015), the government encourages R&D institutions and higher education institutions to transfer S&T achievements to enterprises or other organisations by assignment, license, investment as a trade-in, and other means.
Clusters and regional policies: In 2011, a programme for the construction of innovative industry clusters was launched in order to coordinate the development of science and technology enterprises with the local economy, on the one hand, and with the national strategic orientation, on the other hand. The programme aims to foster the technological upgrading of the traditional economy and the growth of regional industries, and to accelerate regional economic development. The programme also supported the development of both SMEs and large firms in local industrial fields, as well as the development of new skills.
STI policy governance: In 2014, two significant policies were announced, i.e. the Opinions on Improving and Strengthening the Management of National Government-Funded Projects and Funds and the Scheme of Deepening Management Reform of National Science and Technology Programmes (Special Projects and Foundations, etc.). According to the latter, about 100 national S&T programmes will be classified into five categories and will no longer be directly managed by departments and ministries. An open and unified national S&T management platform will be established, which consists of a new unified evaluation and inspection mechanism. A programme to evaluate National Engineering Technology Centres has been designed using a new set of indicators. China has also started making use of the results of STI evaluation exercises to improve S&T management and enhance the national innovation policy design at the level of programmes, institutions and the system. In 2014, the China Publishing and Distribution Trading Cloud Platform was established, serving the publishing industry chain, based on cloud computing technology. The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) also established the National S&T Information System, a public information service platform to access reports and information, including on resources and data about publicly financed R&D projects.
Globalisation: China’s science and innovation systems are weakly linked to global networks, as is reflected in a low-level of international co-authorship and co-invention. The government is trying to make the STI system more open through continued government co-operation on S and through diversification of the ways in which Chinese enterprises and PRIs interact with their foreign counterparts. In recent years, China has also strengthened its participation in large-scale international collaborative projects, such as the EU 7th Framework Programme, and has engaged in annual bilateral dialogues on STI co-operation with key partner countries, such as the United States and Germany. For example, financial support continues to be made available under the Sino-EU Science and Technology Cooperation Programme, which aims to promote and support both China and EU S innovation and industrial cooperation.
ICT and Internet infrastructures: China has significantly improved its RTA in ICT in past years. Patent data also show that China is a top world player in new technologies related to the Internet of Things and Big Data, and that it holds the third-largest portfolio – after Japan and the United States – of patents in bursting technologies for wireless communication monitoring. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the total sales revenue of China’s ICT industry increased 10.4% in year 2015, to USD 4.3 trillion, with an annual increase of 17.3% in domestic sales being the key driver. The Internet Plus initiative addresses the integration of ICT technologies with China’s industry. It also aims to make China a leading player in certain technology areas, such as 5G internet and integrated circuits. However, the relatively higher price and lower speed of China’s Internet have been openly criticized and still have room to improve, as does its network readiness. New infrastructure, such as the Internet of Things, mobile Internet, industry cloud and big data, is also considered necessary and yet to be fully developed.