Chinese Innovation Time
In 2017, the leading and supporting roles of innovation in China’s economic and social development came into full force. For example, China’s first self-developed and constructed aircraft carrier was transferred from dry dock into the water. The C919, China’s homegrown large passenger plane, took off over Shanghai. And a team of Chinese scientists built the world’s first quantum computing machine that far transcends the abilities of classical and conventional computers. All these achievements testify to China’s growing scientific and technological strength and innovative capabilities. In 2018, China’s innovation-driven development is expected to reach new heights, and breakthroughs are expected in myriad realms, including the innovation environment, modes and subjects.
For starters, in terms of the innovation environment, China is presently evolving from a national innovation system to social innovation ecosystem. The concept of an innovation ecosystem is intended to optimally meet the requirements for fostering innovation. The international community believes that such a concept should be a basic tenet of a country’s innovation system.
Second, in terms of innovation modes, China is expanding from industry-university-research cooperation to collaborative innovation in a broader sense. Presently, China’s industry-university-research innovation cooperation is carried out primarily at the micro level. Greater innovation resources in some key areas remain in the hands of the government. Thus, cooperation and coordination among various governmental agencies and institutions are especially important. In 2018, China will take greater efforts to establish and improve its innovation coordination mechanism.
Third, innovation subjects have changed dramatically in China over the past few years, expanding from exclusive innovation conducted by scientific research institutions to enterprise-led innovation and then to mass entrepreneurship and innovation. This trend will continue in 2018.
Fourth, in terms of innovation types, China will continue to focus on radical and disruptive innovation rather than standard innovation in 2018. Radical and disruptive innovation cannot be realized by a single agency, institution or small group of people—it requires nationwide efforts and governmental support.
Fifth, China will attach greater importance to the cultivation and training of innovative professionals in 2018. As early as 2016, China issued a guideline on deepening reform of professional development mechanisms. It pointed out that the country needed to improve its methods of supporting and cultivating strategic scientists and innovative research professionals. A strategic scientist is defined by whether his or her work could lead a specific field and whether he or she can identify the next major breakthroughs for the field. If a team has such a scientist or a leading sci-tech professional, it has a fair chance to reach the world’s top tier. Conversely, a good team can effectively support and help its leading scientists to better organize major projects and complete major research programs.