Business / Economy

Growing R&D investment makes innovation more than slogan

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-17 16:37

BEIJING - Innovation is more than just slogan in China as the central government and firms place more emphasis on research and development (R&D) despite downward economic pressures.

The Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) published a development plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) on Tuesday, which said it would elevate investment in basic research to the same level as big-spending countries by 2020.

The targets are in line with national science and technology development goals. China wants to become one of the most innovative countries by 2020 and a leading innovator by 2030 before realizing the objective of becoming a world S&T power by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 2049.

Spending on basic research rose to 67.1 billion yuan (about $10 billion) in 2015, but gaps still exist in terms of original research, world-leading scientists and the overall innovation environment, according to Gao Wen, deputy head with NSFC.

Investing in innovation is not only high on the governments' agenda, but also a priority of enterprises, which believe innovation can help them get more bang for the buck in the long run.

An annual global survey by accountancy firm KPMG showed that increased spending on R&D is a primary issue for China's manufacturing executives.

The report surveyed 360 senior executives, including 36 from China, across six industries -- aerospace and defence, automotive, conglomerates, medical devices, engineering, and industrial products and metals.

More than 62 percent of China's executives plan to spend more than 6 percent of revenue on R&D over the next two years while less than half of global respondents had planned to do the same, according to the survey.

Huawei is one of the most enthusiastic R&D investors. It spent over $9 billion, about 15 percent of its revenue, to develop products and services last year.

Huawei will continue to increase investment in this regard, spending up to 30 percent of its income, according to Xu Wenwei, a senior manager with the firm said on Tuesday, during an event to mark Huawei Innovation Day in Europe.

However, more money spent does not guarantee more value created. Supportive and accompanying reform policies must support talent to really make full use of the budget.

The State Council, China's cabinet, earlier this month simplified budgeting for research projects, increased incentives for researchers, relaxed the management of equipment purchases, and rolled out preferential land use regulations for research and development institutions.

The huge pool of funds demands stricter and more detailed project management, said Gao, adding that the government will set up credit review and accountability mechanisms to ensure the R&D funds are put to proper use.

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