Home > Views & Papers > Chen Qiang: Planning for Sci-tech Innovation Needs to Consider Both the Factors and the Ecological Niche

Chen Qiang: Planning for Sci-tech Innovation Needs to Consider Both the Factors and the Ecological Niche

Thu, Aug 03, 2023

The competition in sci-tech innovation today is no longer limited to the level of products and services but has instead evolved into a contest of systems and ecosystems that evaluates broad-ranging and systemic capabilities. On the other hand, sci-tech innovation governance is now focusing on “sources” and “planning” to enhance innovation ecosystems and strengthen innovation breeding. Building the “sources” primarily entails the use of rational policy design and policy formulation to attract and gather talents, technologies, capital, data and various functional resources, and to promote the formation of conditions and foundations for sci-tech innovation according to certain logic. Increasing innovation factors is the major purpose. However, if this aspect is the only one considered, it may result in a situation where one is “winning the pieces (in a chess game) but not the board”. Therefore, it is crucial to implement reasonable “planning” and various activities to actively plan for the ecological niche in order to unleash the energy hidden in the “sources”.

Firstly, it is important to channel the power of large-scale scientific facilities’ advantage in aggregation into the drive for exploring frontier science fields. There should be a focus on improving the operational efficiency and service levels of large-scale scientific facilities by using international advanced experience for reference. Accordingly, these facilities can be relied on to develop and launch international big science programs, explore the establishment of global scientific research funds, entice talents from China and beyond, investigate frontier science issues and produce original research findings. In the meantime, it is critical to adopt more proactive opening-up strategies that will enable sci-tech enterprises to expand quickly and open new markets.

Secondly, it is important to convert the numerical advantage in sci-tech human resources into systemic capabilities for breakthroughs in sci-tech innovation. The cultivation and growth of talents as the “primary resource” are inseparable from the development of science and technology as the “primary productive force” and the transformation of innovation as the “primary driver of growth”. Richer task scenarios should be designed in terms of exploring the frontiers of basic science, solving technological bottlenecks, developing “trump card” technologies and organizing disruptive innovations, and the organized scientific research should be strengthened, in order to give more talents the chance to experience and grow in high-intensity research practice, develop the ability to participate in and organize large-scale research and stand out more quickly.

Thirdly, it is important to transform top-tier international academic activities into long-term mechanisms for substantial participation in global sci-tech governance. Besides bringing into play such activities’ roles in exploring frontier science issues, facilitating innovation consensus and securing talents from home and abroad, it is important to improve related mechanism design to further amplify their spillover effect, strengthen their roles in building international sci-tech cooperation platforms, introducing and fostering international academic organizations and formulating technical standards and governance rules, and to promote higher-level institutional opening-up in the field of sci-tech innovation. As the old saying goes, “I have no fear that floating clouds may blur my eyes, for on the topmost story of the building am I.” Planning the ecological niche for sci-tech innovation necessitates not only having a long-term perspective and a stronger understanding of the global situation and trends in sci-tech innovation, but also keeping in mind the country’s most fundamental interests, and improving knowledge and proficiency of the country’s major strategic needs. Only in this way can the accumulated governance energy be transformed into a strong impetus for sci-tech innovation.

Source: Economic Daily, July 22, 2023

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