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Basic Scientific Research Can Boost Industrial Transformation

Dec 15, 2019

The new round of scientific and technological revolution has triggered drastic changes in production modes, industrial organizations and structures, and played a significant role in determining global industrial transformation patterns while greatly influencing trade and the international division of labor.

However, due to its sensitivity to external environment, scientific and technological innovation needs a suitable institutional setup to promote development. As such, the scientific and technological system should adapt to the new changes. For that, however, the authorities need to establish better coordination among government departments, and set up a sound innovation governance system to boost scientific and technological development.

In the seven decades since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government has continuously reformed the scientific and technological system and promoted innovation. But to promote comprehensive industrial transformation, the authorities have to further improve the existing scientific and technological system.

China's innovation program faces some problems. For example, there is a lack of coordination among different innovation-promotion organizations, and the market and intellectual property rights protection mechanisms are not foolproof, which is not conducive to promoting comprehensive industrial transformation.

The traditional management system should be compatible with the new industrial revolution. Since the traditional industrial system follows the top-down bureaucratic model, the new industrial revolution is focused more on creativity, equality, collaboration and opening-up, which could be a challenge for the innovation system.

Although the selective industrial policy is beneficial to developing economies trying to catch up with the developed countries, in the new age of industrial transformation, if a country sticks to the traditional policy paradigm, it could stunt the development of emerging technologies and industries. Therefore, it is important for the government to explore a scientific and technological system that could boost China's innovation capacity.

In order to avail of the opportunities offered by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and realize industrial transformation, as well as face the challenge of global competition, the authorities should further reform the scientific and technological system and build a strong innovation governance system.

To begin with, they need to strike the right balance between the government and the market. And to sharpen China's competitive edge, the authorities should allow the market to play a decisive role in resource allocation in order to promote innovation. But when it comes to strategically sensitive sectors, which concern national security and public interests, the authorities should integrate the government's institutional advantages to enhance the country's strategic scientific and technological power.

While strengthening coordination among different government departments and policies, the authorities should also combine science and technology policies with industrial, trade and financial policies to boost innovation. In particular, the government should deregulate emerging industries and create a flexible market environment to encourage enterprises to accelerate innovation.

Besides, the government should optimize research and development activities.

By improving basic R&D, it can help researchers to focus more on fundamental scientific research which would facilitate more in-depth research in specific scientific fields. The government should also encourage enterprises to conduct basic research in applied sciences, so that the result of scientific research can be applied to industry and thus boost innovation and the production of innovative products.

The authorities also need to establish a management and evaluation system that will promote the cultivation of talents in the science and technology field, and improve the overall efficiency of the innovation promotion system.

Furthermore, the government needs to boost the innovation capacity of core technology fields, and strengthen innovation cooperation with other countries. As a responsible major power, China should take measures for the globalization of innovation, and contribute Chinese wisdom to international cooperation in innovation.

The author is a researcher at the Institutes of Science and Development, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily. (China Daily)

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