Tech in­put

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The UK lags be­hind China and the US on in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy to drive in­no­va­tion, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey of busi­ness lead­ers across Bri­tain.

The United King­dom lags be­hind China and the United States on in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy to drive in­no­va­tion, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey of busi­ness lead­ers across the UK. That was the view of 56 per­cent of the 275 ex­ec­u­tives polled in a re­cent sur­vey by con­sult­ing firm Ac­cen­ture Plc.

“A tough econ­omy over the past few years has led busi­nesses to con­cen­trate on cut­ting costs and im­prov­ing em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity, mak­ing the fo­cus on in­no­va­tion in­su­lar,” said An­drew Pop­ple­ton, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ac­cen­ture’s UK and Ire­land tech­nol­ogy group.

In an Ac­cen­ture sur­vey two months ago of 500 ex­ec­u­tives and pub­lic- sec­tor lead­ers world­wide, more than twothirds of those busi­ness lead­ers said China would reach or pull ahead of Europe in terms of in­no­va­tion by 2023. How­ever, two-thirds of those polled also said the Euro­pean in­dus­try was still com­pet­i­tive in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Rebecca Fan­nin, founder and edi­tor of Sil­i­con Dragon News, who has long fol­lowed in­no­va­tion in China’s in­dus­trial sec­tor, told China Daily she was not sur­prised the UK is lag­ging be­hind China and the US in in­vest­ing to drive in­no­va­tion.

“China has many govern­ment ini­tia­tives to sup­port in­no­va­tion while the US thrives on the en­tre­pre­neur­ial cul­ture and star­tups to spark new tech­nolo­gies,” said Fan­nin, author of the book Sil­i­con Dragon & Startup Asia.

Fan­nin said many UK ven­ture in­vestors have scaled back af­ter the dot-com boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The US re­mains the lead­ing ven­ture mar­ket in the world, fol­lowed by China.

China spent about 1 tril­lion yuan ($ 160 bil­lion) in re­search and de­vel­op­ment in 2012, ac­count­ing for a lit­tle less than 2 per­cent of its GDP. About 74 per­cent of that in­vest­ment was made by busi­nesses.

As the lead­ers of the world’s sec­ond- largest econ­omy vowed to move to an in­no­va­tion-driven so­ci­ety by 2020, the in­vest­ment in GDP has in­creased 20 per­cent each year for the past six years.

Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd, for ex­am­ple, has of­ten been re­garded as a good ex­am­ple of this by an­a­lysts in and out­side China. The global provider of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment and ser­vices ap­plied for more than 54,000 patents in 2012, in­clud­ing 14,000 filed out­side China. Of those ap­pli­ca­tions, Huawei was granted 30,000 patents.

In the same year, the com­pany — whose in­vest­ment

China has many govern­ment ini­tia­tives to sup­port in­no­va­tion while the US thrives on the en­tre­pre­neur­ial cul­ture and star­tups to spark new tech­nolo­gies.”

REBECCA FAN­NIN

EDI­TOR OF SIL­I­CON DRAGON NEWS

in the US has of­ten raised con­cerns among some politi­cians for national se­cu­rity rea­sons — in­vested $4.8 bil­lion in R&D.

An­other ex­am­ple is China’s bio­med­i­cal sec­tor, which is rapidly trans­form­ing it­self from a man­u­fac­tur­ing base into an in­no­va­tion hub by in­vest­ing bil­lions of dollars lead­ing to in­no­va­tions, ac­cord­ing to a study by Lux Re­search, an in­de­pen­dent re­search firm.

ZDNet, a busi­ness tech­nol­ogy news web­site, has re­cently re­ported that tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion would shift to­ward China be­cause of mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties, strong cap­i­tal avail­abil­ity and govern­ment in­cen­tives for cer­tain in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy seg­ments.

While PetroChina Co Ltd was the first Chi­nese com­pany to en­ter the Top 100 of Booz & Co’s Top 1,000 Global In­no­va­tion List in 2012, the num­ber of Chi­nese com­pa­nies on the list has steadily grown to 47 from 40 in 2011 and 23 in 2010.

The US is still ahead of China in to­tal govern­ment and pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ment in R& D, with nearly twice as much. How­ever, the White House Coun­cil of Ad­vi­sors on Science and Tech­nol­ogy warned that if the cur­rent trend con­tin­ues, China may over­take the US within a decade.

Ann Lee, an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at New York Univer­sity, said China is still not tak­ing a lead in dis­rup­tive tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs.

“( It is) get­ting closer be­cause China is catch­ing up in its un­der­stand­ing of cur­rent tech­nolo­gies and will even­tu­ally be in a po­si­tion to con­trib­ute more to break­through tech­nolo­gies,” said Lee, author of the book What the US Can Learn from China.

A re­cent KPMG re­port sur­vey­ing more than 800 global busi­ness lead­ers showed more peo­ple be­lieve the US, rather than China, will be the big­gest in­no­va­tion hub in the years to come.

“China did not in­vent things such as high- speed trains or drones, but if the Chi­nese keep up their R&D in­vest­ment and learn­ing curve, then they should lead at some point in the not too dis­tant fu­ture,” Lee said.

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