China has moved up the list of the world’s top 25 innovative economies, rising three notches from 25 to 22, with strong performance in several indicators, according to the latest Global Innovation Index (GII) released last week. In 2016, it was the first middle-income country to make the list.
China’s technological innovations have made headlines in recent months, from the launch of its first X-ray space telescope to observe black holes and development of the world’s first quantum computing machine, to the debut of its home-grown C919 passenger jet and its successful sampling of combustible ice. Jointly released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University, and INSEAD, the 2017 GII is in its 10th edition this year.
The rankings are a leading benchmarking tool for business executives, policy makers and others seeking insight into the state of innovation around the world. A closer look into the general index shows that China moved up one spot to 16th in innovation quality, retaining its position for the fifth consecutive year as the top middle-income economy and edging closer to high-income economies.
The report showed that China tops in a number of sub-rankings, including domestic market scale, human resources, patents by origin, high-tech exports, and industrial designs by origin. The world’s second-largest economy was once seen as an imitator and the “world’s factory,” churning out mountains of low-quality goods, but it is becoming capable of producing innovative products and ideas.
China’s qualified patents exceeded one million last year, becoming the third country after the United States and Japan to join the world’s million patent club.
Meanwhile, the number of “unicorn” companies in China — young, unlisted companies with a market value of over 1 billion U.S. dollars — rose from 70 in 2015 to 131 in 2016, most of which are high-tech firms, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.
More unicorn companies are expected to pop up in China thanks to the country’s support for entrepreneurship and public innovation. One case in point is the bicycle-sharing industry, with two industrial giants, Ofo and Mobike, having received billions of dollars in investment and expanding steadily overseas.
Wu Wensheng, executive deputy head with Great Wall Strategic Consultants, a leading private think tank, attributed China’s impressive innovation progress to the country’s large talent pool, growing investment in research and development as well as government policy support.
Innovation is at the core of the country’s 13th five-year plan, which aims for China to become an “innovative nation” by 2020, an international leader in innovation by 2030, and a world powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation by 2050.
Innovation hubs, incubators and demonstration zones have sprung up across the country, with a string of government preferential policies to nurture start-ups.
However, the utilization rate of innovation resources still remains rather low in China, according to the report released by the Research Center for Technological Innovation with Tsinghua University. —Xinhua