Sino-French sem­i­nar: Lo­cal mar­ket savvy and joint R&D cru­cial

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - IP SPECIAL - By ZHANG ZHAO zhangzhao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Against the back­drop of glob­al­iza­tion, in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies must com­bine global com­pe­tence in R&D with an un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal mar­kets, said of­fi­cials and en­trepreneurs from France and China at the 19th French-Chi­nese Eco­nomic Sem­i­nar held last week.

Com­pa­nies with deep ex­pe­ri­ence in the Chi­nese mar­ket are at the fore­front of the Si­noFrench re­la­tion­ship as it de­vel­ops in a more com­pre­hen­sive and strate­gic way, said for­mer French Prime Min­is­ter JeanPierre Raf­farin in a keynote speech to the sem­i­nar.

Jean-Marc de Royere, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent at Air Liq­uide Group, said his com­pany in­no­vates by first study­ing mar­ket de­mands and then do­ing many ex­per­i­ments to make in­ven­tions.

“In­no­va­tion is very im­por­tant in this in­dus­tri­al­ized era and our clients are the most im­por­tant part­ners,” he said. “The com­pa­nies have to go glob­al­ized so that they can share good ideas on a world­wide scale.”

“In­no­va­tions do not have to be big leaps for­ward,” he said. “We can­not in­vent new prod­ucts ev­ery day, but we can con­tin­u­ously up­grade our prod­ucts by sen­si­tive mar­ket aware­ness.”

He added that as com­mer­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions, com­pa­nies must seek profit dur­ing the process of in­no­va­tion, which re­quires op­ti­mized al­lo­ca­tion of re­sources.

Even smaller com­pa­nies also can be in­no­va­tors, said Michel Cro­chon, di­rec­tor gen­eral for strat­egy at Sch­nei­der Elec­tric.

“In­no­va­tion does not come up by it­self, so we need a mech­a­nism that en­cour­ages in­no­va­tion,” he said. “An in­no­va­tive com­pany should not only have in­no­va­tion aware­ness and tech­nolo­gies, but also prove by tests that their in­no­va­tions are prac­ti­cal.”

For a transna­tional com­pany, in­no­va­tion must cater to char­ac­ter­is­tics of dif­fer­ent coun­tries and con­sumers, said Thierry de La Tour d’Ar­taise, chair­man and CEO of SEB Group.

“We ob­serve con­sumer life­styles,” he said.

Vin­cent Tai, CEO of Zhejiang Su­por Co, agreed, not­ing that his com­pany has in­tro­duced a num­ber of French patents to de­velop new prod­ucts in China.

One ex­am­ple is the “ther­mospot wok”, a wok with a spot at its center that turns red when the tem­per­a­ture reaches an op­ti­mal level that gen­er­ates the least burned carbon.

The tech­nol­ogy was first used on Western-style fry­ing pans. When it was mod­i­fied a lit­tle bit and trans­planted to the com­mon Chi­nese wok, it solved the prob­lems housewives faced in con­trol­ling the cook­ing tem­per­a­ture, said Tai.

On the other hand, there are many Chi­nese pro­pri­etary tech­nolo­gies that are ma­ture enough to ex­port to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, he said.

Based on the elec­tric pres­sure cooker pop­u­lar in Chi­nese kitchens, Su­por de­vel­oped a mul­ti­func­tional cooker by adding some func­tions to cook Western food, and re­ceived a wel­come re­sponse from Euro­pean con­sumers, said Tai.

He said suc­cess­ful in­no­va­tion in­cludes in­te­gra­tion of re­sources to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and joint ef­forts in R&D by many sides with mu­tual trust.

“With the Chi­nese in­no­va­tive speed, we will cap­ture global op­por­tu­ni­ties,” he said.

“In­no­va­tion is tech­nol­ogy com­bined with ro­mance, and ideas merged with real life,” said Zhao Chang­wen, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the En­ter­prise Re­search In­sti­tute at the De­vel­op­ment Re­search Center of the State Coun­cil. “It should not only fol­low the mar­ket, but lead the mar­ket.”

He said that the gov­ern­ment should pro­vide poli­cies to guide and en­cour­age in­no­va­tion and cre­ate an open mar­ket with a fair-play en­vi­ron­ment to pro­tect in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and guar­an­tee the le­gal prof­its of in­no­va­tors.

ZHANG ZHAO / CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese and French en­trepreneurs share views at the sem­i­nar.

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