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R&D intensity increased to historical high in Hefei

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-01 11:00
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Employees produce photovoltaic cells at a workshop of Jinko Solar Holding Co Ltd, in Hefei Circular Economy Demonstration Park, Anhui province, in January, 2022. RUAN XUEFENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Known for its science and technology strengths, Hefei in Anhui province saw its research and development intensity increase to a historical high last year, according to the local government.

The city's R&D expenditure grew by 19 percent year-on-year, reaching 47 billion yuan ($6.42 billion) last year, according to statistics by the Hefei bureau of science and technology released on Oct 17. The ratio of R&D expenditure in comparison with the gross domestic product, known as R&D intensity, stood at 3.91 percent, significantly higher than the national average.

"The ratio evaluates a region's science and technology strengths and how much importance the local authorities attach to innovation," said Dai Bing, deputy director of the bureau.

The city spent 7.9 billion yuan on fundamental research, 5.7 billion yuan on applied research and 33.4 billion yuan on trials and tests last year, according to the bureau.

The nation as a whole spent 3.08 trillion yuan last year on research and development, an increase of 10.1 percent year-on-year, as the country remains steadfast in stepping up investment in fundamental research and striving for breakthroughs in crucial technologies, according to a document released by the National Bureau of Statistics in September.

The national R&D intensity for the year was 2.54 percent, while seven provincial-level regions on the mainland saw their ratios exceed the national average — Beijing hit 6.83 percent, Shanghai reached 4.44 percent, Tianjin achieved 3.49 percent, Guangdong province was at 3.42 percent, Jiangsu saw 3.12 percent, Zhejiang sat at 3.11 percent and Anhui came in at 2.56 percent.

The year's R&D expenditure by Hefei accounted for 40.7 percent of Anhui's total, according to the city bureau.

In recent years, Hefei has risen to become one of the country's most important science centers and manufacturing hubs.

With a plethora of scientific institutes, including the University of Science and Technology of China, the city received approval from the central authorities in 2017 to build the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Center, one of four in the country.

"As much as 18 percent of the city's fiscal expenditure went to science and technology sectors in 2022," said Dai.

The province arranged nearly 1 billion yuan in funds for the Institute of Health and Medicine, which was established in 2021 as several institutes under the Hefei Comprehensive National Science Center, for operations in 2022 and 2023, according to the provincial government.

More than 638 million yuan for the institute will be covered by the Hefei government.

Authorities with the institute said more than half of its funding had been assigned to support R&D and they are aiming to attract more talent from around the world.

"Thanks to the city's continuous investment in science and technology, Hefei has become a powerhouse in many scientific areas, especially in quantum information, nuclear fusion energy and deep space exploration research," said Dai.

He expects that the number of high-tech companies in the city will surpass 8,200 by the end of this year.

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