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Forum Special: Businesses talk innovation at Pujiang Forum

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-27 08:12

With a focus on innovation-driven development and the role of enterprises, the 2013 Pujiang Innovation Forum kicked off on Saturday in Shanghai.

More than two-thirds of the city's investment in science and technology innovation comes from local enterprises, Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong said at the opening ceremony.

Yang said a new revolution in science and technology is underway, and technology is playing an increasingly important role.

Local enterprises are the most energetic players in innovation-driven development, he said.

Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang said that there should be more cooperation between industries and academia.

He said it is of utmost importance to use education and training to instill a spirit of innovation in entrepreneurs, especially those who are younger than 35.

To work toward this goal, the government must establish comprehensive systems for talent mobility, salary and incentives for young professionals, he said.

He said that enterprises should be given full play in terms of innovation decision-making, investment and management.

Small and medium-sized enterprises should be given a fair chance in terms of innovation as well, Wan said.

As the country-of-honor of the forum this year, Finland has sent a delegation led by Jan Vapaavuori, Minister of Economic Affairs, as well as representatives of well-known Finnish companies.

Vapaavuori said that innovation is no easy task. In the Finnish system, everything begins with school to encourage children to become creative.

Peter Vesterbacka, chief marketing officer of Rovio Entertainment, a Finnish game developer and producer of the hit game Angry Birds, said he thinks children in China spend too much time in school and lack time to develop their creativity.

What is also important, Vesterbacka said, is to create an environment in which startups are not afraid of failure when trying out new things.

"Some people or companies are simply copycats for they know the thing they are copying cannot fail," Vesterbacka said.

In this sense, people are less willing to try new things and thus less likely to become innovative.

Eero Pekkola, chief executive officer of the Finnish company Oilon, which manufactures products like burners, heat pumps and solar-powered heater, said that innovation is the "only insurance" that enterprises will stay competitive in the market.

As a key player in the energy and environmental technology industry, Oilon receives about one-third of its revenue from the Chinese market.

The company spends about 6 percent of their annual income in research and development every year, which is rarely seen in the industry.

Pekkola said that although Oilon operates in a very competitive market, it has been the leader of the industry for a long time. It is because the company comes out with new models every year, he said.

Forum Special: Businesses talk innovation at Pujiang Forum

Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park, the home to Shanghai hi-tech enterprises, has signed an agreement with China Finland Golden Bridge Innovation Center. GAO ERQIANG /FOR CHINA DAILY

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