Two of the world’s largest economies appear to be in competition to create their own indigenous innovation-driven economies. We’ve been hearing about the innovation drive in India over the last couple of years, but China also now seems to be keen to develop its own indigenous innovation ecosystem.
According to a recent article in The Business Times, “THE ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ label, once synonymous with manufacturing, assembly lines and clever replication, is rapidly being made to symbolise a new era of indigenous Chinese innovation. Sunway TaihuLight could be the latest to exemplify this. The Chinese-made supercomputer, built using Chinese chip technology, was announced in June to have superseded its predecessor as the world’s fastest supercomputer.”
The article adds that China is closing in on many advanced economies with innovations that are making waves domestically and overseas. It quotes Baidu as an example, with its self-driven BMW Baidu cars that ply Chinese streets, and smart bikes that accomplish a range of functions from monitoring users’ health to route mapping on smartphones.
It suggests that much of this innovation-driven progress can be attributed to structural reforms that promote research, knowledge and technology transfer; and policies geared towards encouraging opportunity-driven, rather than needs-driven innovation. Both the central government and individual enterprises have been advocating less reliance on foreign knowledge and more on fostering their own intellectual property, especially in capital-goods and high-technology sectors.
It adds that in its race to become an innovation-driven economy, China has been gearing its efforts towards one critical reorientation: moving past a growth model centred on the imports of technologies and expertise, economising designs and manufacturing processes. It is now seeking to build its own technical skills and knowledge, develop its own software, design products higher up the value chain using entirely new technologies, and bettering its supply chain management.
The key to unlocking China’s full innovation potential and ensuring a successful transition is in developing its own quality science and technology, providing an education that will help China meet the demands for a highly-skilled workforce in the future, and creating an environment and ecosystem that are conducive and will support innovative pursuits.
One example of this is Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (SSGKC), a large-scale, integrated smart city project. Jointly developed together with the local government, Guangzhou Development District, SSGKC provides a unique landscape that seamlessly combines the private entity with institutional support from local government.
As an example of its ambition, the SSGKC just signed a MoU with Siemens to joint develop a smart eco technology demonstration center – claimed to be Siemens’ first urban sustainability hub in Asia-Pacific. Located in the Southern start-up area of SSGKC, the 7000 square metres area will be a center of excellence that enables local and foreign technology companies to exchange business ideas and showcase new generation information and communications technology (ICT), smart technologies, intelligent transportation, renewable energy and green technologies. Developers and providers of various smart eco technology solutions will have the opportunity to collaborate, and implement their solutions from within and outside the center.
Since its inception in 2010, SSGKC has established itself as a frontrunner in smart and green technologies. It has collaborated with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore to draft the Smart City Master Plan in 2012, and was included in the first batch of smart city pilot projects in China. In 2013, SSGKC collaborated with Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority to draft the eco city master plan and green building standard for SSGKC.
According to The Business Times article, as China’s economy moves up the innovation value chain, smart technology will increasingly become a key national policy to help drive China’s rapid urbanization, where hundreds of government-led smart city pilot projects will be implemented across China. In this regard, local industry players have called upon the Chinese government to work with international institutes to establish smart city standards to promote best practices and drive further innovation in the industry.
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[Image credit: SSGKC]