people are involved in R&D
in China million in the science and technology sector and 5.35 million are involved in R&D.
Over the past five years, 1.1 million Chinese graduates educated overseas have returned to China — three times the number between 1980 and 2010.
Also, Chinese companies are increasingly buying European companies for their R&D strengths, the latest example being ChemChina’s acquisition of the German industrial machinery maker KraussMaffei Group for $1 billion on Jan 11.
From an average of $1 billion a year from 2004 to 2008, Chinese investment in Europe surged to $18 billion in 2014.
Chinese companies have become active in buying European businesses since 2008-09 financial crisis.
Dennis Pamlin, founder of 21st Century Frontiers in Sweden, a consultancy that has long tracked the development of China and India and how they fare in innovation compared with European powers, said: “It is clear that a new generation of entrepreneurs in China has the confidence to provide world-class information and communication technology (ICT) solutions.”
Pamlin said that the impact of role models such as Alibaba founder Jack Ma cannot be underestimated.
“So China is expected to encourage the link between high-tech research, ICT implementation, transformative solutions and sustainable urban development, including in the next five-year plan,” said Pamlin.
Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of Danfoss in Denmark, a global business that offers heating and cooling solutions for industrial and residential purposes, said China needs a new approach to shift its growth model to a higher level by focusing more on innovation.
“In my opinion, going smarter, greener and more global will be some of the key components for China to succeed in this grand strategy for transition.”
Li Yan, CEO of Beijing Weipass Panorama Information Technology Co Ltd, which offers payment and transfer solutions, said one advantage China has over other countries is the largest number of industrial clusters of high tech electronic device manufacturing, which allows high levels of skill integration.
“For example, you can find all kinds of components and materials very easily in Shenzhen, Guangzhou province, and lots of well-trained professional workers. That is why tech giants such as Apple make China their manufacturing base,” Li said.
“That is not just an advantage of cheap labor, but the industrial clusters formed over these decades.”
China has 146 national hightech parks and 2,500 hatching zones, in which about 100,000 companies are in high-tech businesses.
Li also said many new Chinese hi-tech companies have their own technology innovation and unique business models.
Pamlin of 21st Century Frontiers said China has built key ICT infrastructure and allowed use of smart high-tech solutions in a way that makes a rapid transition to a smart society possible.
It has also encouraged the new generation to use new technology in ways that support the transition to more sustainable lifestyles.
“Now the challenge is, as it is all over the world, more on the organizational and cultural side,” said Pamlin.
He also said the use of dematerialized solutions, more teleworking, co-sharing, investments in smart buildings that are net producers of renewable energy and a focus on non-material goods among the richer parts of society will require new role models as well as new policy frameworks.
“It is important to review current structures and incentives for business, but maybe more important to question current images of a successful life and see how sustainable lifestyles can drive innovation and allow 9 billion people to live a good life.”
Pamlin warned that the major obstacle for China is to avoid only following best practices from the West and begin to explore “next practice”, solutions that no one else has implemented.
Gao Shuang in Brussels contributed to this story.
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