Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blinding Science: China's Race to Innovate - This article examines China's innovation plans and attempts to look under the public veneer of the popular press.

The Government is very much at the heart of innovation program - that much is clear. They are pushing diverse areas of science and engineering in traditional and new markets - many without the restrictions (e.g. stem cells) of the West in an attempt to get ahead of the competition. The funding levels for R&D are also reported to rise to the same levels as Japan and USA by 2020. Furthermore, "By 2050 China aims to become the biggest player in Science". - China is making a very public announcement of its intent that is clear. However, is this all achievable? Not quite.

The article points to many road-blocks, such as a lack of English speaking engineers and scientists and China's lax attitude to counterfeiting, which needs improving to safeguard intellectual property. Whilst all of this is being driven by the government, foreign companies are contributing, too. SAP is planning to open an R&D operation and Motorola are opening another centre to add to the 16 they already have. An Interesting observation was noted by Colin Giles, Senior VP and manager of China handset business for Nokia that design plays a much greater role in purchase behavior.

Will all these ambitious targets be met? Many don't think so. I hope however, that some attention is given to the environment. Thankfully, this article points to the need for China to find a more sustainable model for growth - if driven by economic reasons rather than concern for the environment.

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