China inaugurates STI policy centre
On 24 September, the International Research and Training Centre for Science and Technology Strategy (CISTRAT) was inaugurated in Beijing (China). The centre will operate under the auspices of UNESCO.
The ceremony was attended by Wan Gang, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology, and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Gretchen Kalonji, as well as by 16 trainees who were in Beijing to participate in the centre’s first international seminar on 9−28 September. The trainees hailed from Botswana, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Lebanon, Panama, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.
China credits its growing capacity in science, technology and innovation (STI) for much of its meteoric economic rise in recent years. Now, it wishes to share its experience with developing countries through South−South cooperation. Trainees attending the September seminar were familiarized with the methods used by China to compile its own recent STI policies, such as the national consultation on strategic areas for research.
In 2006, China set itself the target of becoming an innovation-driven country by 2020. ‘Capacity-building for national innovation has become the core of the country’s national strategies, marking an important shift in policy,’ stated the UNESCO Science Report 2010.
One of the main thrusts of China’s policies for fostering innovation is to augment investment in research and development (R&D) to 2.5% of GDP by 2020. By 2009, China was devoting 1.7% of GDP to R&D, compared to 1.4% three years earlier. Via tax deductions, the government has assumed a 12.5% share of enterprise expenditure on R&D, among other incentive measures.
Other policies provide a framework for government procurement of the product of endogenous innovation, such as for major construction projects; the assimilation of imported advanced technology; capacity-building in generating and protecting intellectual property rights; an ambitious infrastructure-building programme and; a recruitment programme of foreign experts.
The first Director of CISTRAT is Professor Wang Yuan, Executive Vice-President of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development. He was appointed by CISTRAT’s Governing Board on 24 September.
The new centre will design and conduct international cooperative research programmes, offer professional training programmes, provide technical assistance, develop effective policy tools and foster networking and cooperation among governments, academia and industry.
The focus for cooperative research and training will be on: S&T indicators and statistical analysis; STI strategy and planning methodology; the methodology and application of technology foresight and road-mapping; poverty alleviation using STI; S&T input and financing policies for innovation; science parks and industrial clusters; promoting innovation and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises; training of S&T personnel; developing a response and management system for S&T risks and natural disasters; strategies for addressing climate change and; STI for sustainable development.
It was in September 2009 that China first proposed creating the international centre under the auspices of UNESCO. A feasibility study undertaken by UNESCO in April 2010 proved conclusive, leading to the centre’s approval by UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2011.