www.rdmag.com December 2013 R&DMagazine 45
overcome to reach the 2020 innovation-economy target. China has
demonstrated that the ability to sponsor and perform R&D is not
an impediment, and in fact is part of the solution to resource-based
growth restraints like energy capacity and independence, water supply, agricultural productivity and environmental protection.
China’s continued strong economic growth—more than three times
that of the U.S.—provides the resources to support its strong R&D
investments and expansion of basic infrastructure as well. The
ambitious program and globally enabled economic growth means
that China has become an exporter of jobs into Asia to meet its
own needs. Ten years ago, most foreign direct investment was being
made in China. Today, China has grown to a point that it is now a
foreign direct investor throughout Asia, and by 2017 it is expected
to be a net outbound investor in the region.
China Has Arrived
For the past forty years, the global R&D enterprise was dominated
by Europe, the U.S. and Japan. In 2011, China surpassed Japan’s
overall spending. By 2018, it is expected to surpass the combined
R&D spending of Europe’s 34 countries. And by sometime around
2022, it will likely also exceed the R&D investments of the U.S. in
In addition to recognizing the strong linkage between R&D and
economic growth, it is likely that the professional perspectives of
China’s leadership are influential in science and innovation policy:
eight of the nine members of China’s Standing Committee of the
Political Bureau have engineering degrees.
As part of the aggressive funding program these leaders support,
China is expanding its science and technology infrastructure through
investments in its academic research institutions, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and its industrial research firms.
While taking its place among global R&D leaders, China recognizes
the leverage available through international collaboration. Many
of China’s R&D programs involve collaborations with European
and/or U.S. research organizations. According to the Battelle/R&D
Magazine Global Researcher Survey, about a third of China’s advanced R&D is pursued in collaboration with U.S. research organizations, and about a quarter in collaboration with European research
In Their Own Words
Comment from the Battelle/R&DMagazine Global Researcher Survey
The investment that China is making in scientific research and
the top quality training their scientists have received around the
world is evident from the large improvements in quality that
publications from that country have shown in recent years. They
now appear regularly in top journals and may come to dominate important medical fields.
- Academic Researcher/U.S.
Leading indicators of innovation
China is rapidly gaining in patent
applications and scientific publications
Chinese researchers expect more
change in nearly all research domains
than their U.S. counterparts (1-5 scale).
And China originates an increasing per-
centage of global scientific literature.
Less Neutral More