How will China’s innovation change the world?

Stacey Chow
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From the streets of Shanghai to Shenzhen’s technology incubators, to Beijing’s start-ups, innovation in China is thriving at a rate never seen before.  The Chinese government plans to transform the nation into a global leader in science and technology, and has boosted research-and-development funding throughout the country.  Chinese universities and institutes are undertaking cutting-edge research on technologies ranging from big data to biochemistry, nanotechnology to robotics, while partnering with science parks to commercialize these innovations. Chinese entrepreneurs are increasingly pioneers of innovation, whether in products or business processes, and are constantly adapting to the ever-changing and growing demands of the Chinese consumer market.

Indeed, China’s high R&D spending, large numbers of engineering and science graduates and wave of new entrepreneurial businesses all signal that the country has the potential to occupy the forefront of global innovation. However, issues such as intellectual property rights and the lack of a risk-taking culture needed for creativity lead many to question whether China can successfully morph from a low-cost manufacturer to a value-added innovator.  Moreover, many are concerned about how China’s innovation process will affect foreign companies doing business in China, and how will it affect the competitiveness of businesses worldwide.  Such questions fuel debates in boardrooms and policy circles, from industrialized nations to emerging countries.

At this year’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, under the theme of Charting a New Course for Growth, our private-public partnership platform will convene a high-level summit that includes our New Champions communities of young and dynamic entrepreneurs, technology pioneers and innovators, as well as global CEOs, government officials and civil-society experts.

Through interactive discussions televised to a broader audience, we will bring Chinese leaders together with global participants to explore these questions and generate dialogues about China’s role in global innovation.  We will be featuring some of China’s top business leaders, who we are honoured to have as Co-Chairs for this year’s meeting: these include China Media Capital’s Chairman Li Ruigang, DiDi KuaiDi Group’s President Jean Liu Qing, and Huawei’s Deputy Chairman and Rotating CEO Ken Hu.

Throughout our programme, we will feature a series of China-focused discussions that examine the latest trends, from macro to micro, related to the following topics:

  • Given China’s adjustment to a ‘’new normal’’ in economic development, how will this impact the country’s near-term reform efforts and how will it affect the global economy?
  • With the ‘’Made in China 2025’’ manufacturing plan, how will the nation’s role in international industry partnerships link global value chains, upgrade traditional industries and boost growth and employment?
  • China’s establishment of the AIIB, New Development Bank and the Silk Road Fund has significant regional and global implications. How will these institutions shape multilateral development lending and infrastructure development?
  • The Renminbi has ambitions to become a significant global currency in the near future. How will this impact capital account liberalization, spur the progress of domestic financial reforms and transform global markets?
  • Chinese technology start-ups could disrupt markets and industries. How will digitization trends and China’s ‘’internet plus’’ policy transform sectors from finance to media industries, retail and consumption models, as well as manufacturing and supply chains?
  • As Chinese entrepreneurs continue to venture into global markets, what will it take for Chinese companies to become truly global brands? We will look at the strategies deployed by Chinese entrepreneurs in overseas markets to overcome challenges and build their reputation globally.

Through discussing these issues in Dalian, we hope our meeting will transform perceptions, challenge biases, create opportunities and positively influence long-term business and policy decisions.

Our meeting in China, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, will take place in Dalian, the People’s Republic of China, between 09 – 11 September. The theme of this year’s Meeting is ‘Charting a New Course for Growth’.

Author: Stacey Chow is Associate Director for Emerging Markets, Trade and Investment, for the Programme Development Team at the World Economic Forum.  

Image: A Chinese national flag flutters at the headquarters of a commercial bank on a financial street near the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank, in central Beijing November 24, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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