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Sichuan's Innovation-driven Projects are Booming

Date:10/24/2017 03:04 PM
Source: China Daily
Rights ownership reforms drive commercialization of research achievements, Li You reports.
Innovation-driven projects are seeing a major boom in Sichuan province these days, in the wake of an array of reforms related to the ownership of scientific achievements and their commercialization, local officials said.
One major project set to benefit from the change has particularly high potential, they said - a suspension railway that uses lithium battery power.
The elevated rail system can be suspended over streets, a river or canal, or an existing railway track. It has long been considered a future remedy to ease traffic congestion.
Besides taking up less land, the new form of railway has many other advantages, including being environmentally friendly, involving low costs and ensuring safety.
Experts said it meets the needs of national strategies to save energy, reduce emissions and develop the green economy.
Zhai Wanming, chief designer of the railway project in Sichuan, said it only took four months and 10 days to progress from the design stage to creating the production models. Previously, a project like this would take at least two years to finish this process, he said.
Zhai attributed the fast research process to two main reasons.
First, it was helped by the mixed ownership reform. Previously, the ownership of scientific research results was held only by the State. Now the rights are shared among the State and the researchers involved.
"The reform of ownership became the key motivation driving us to work day and night," Zhai said.
Second, institutional research mechanisms had been streamlined, greatly helping with the resolution of R&D challenges, he said.
"In the past, our staff tended to consider too many things at once, which was so complicated," Zhai said.
Southwest Jiaotong University, the institution where Zhai works, implemented the mixed ownership reforms last year.
Since then, a total of 168 invention patent ownerships belonging to researchers and government officials were confirmed. In addition, nine high-tech startups were established there.
Sichuan has also achieved significant results in promoting the commercialization of scientific and technological achievements.
On Sept 27, the signing ceremony for a major commercial biomedical technology project was held at Sichuan University in Chengdu, capital of the province.
At the signing ceremony in the province's capital, research teams from key laboratories at the university became shareholders in seven major cutting-edge medical projects, including anti-tumor drugs and gene therapy technologies.
The achievements will be commercialized through an initial investment of 800 million yuan ($121.61 million), with seven new companies registered in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone and Wenjiang district.
Through these projects, more than 50 new varieties of medicines that provide tumor gene immunotherapy and cell therapy will be studied. The total investment is expected to top 10 billion yuan overall.
Xie Heping, president of Sichuan University, said that the university had proposed 22 new measures over the past year, issuing an action plan for the commercialization of scientific and technological achievements made at the university.
According to the plan, the main researchers in the seven cutting-edge projects will be awarded 90 percent of the total ownership stake in any achievements.
Wei Yuquan, a professor at Sichuan University, said the projects would help accelerate the resource integration process between universities and local governments. The two will have more opportunities to develop new strategic industries together and new medical innovations, he said.
Civil-military integration
Meanwhile, Sichuan's civil-military integration industry is also enjoying a fruitful season. In September 2015, the State Council gave the province its backing to become the first comprehensive innovation and reform test area for civil-military integration.
This involves the process of integrating civilian and military industries so that shared technologies, processes and resources can be used to meet both national defense and commercial needs. The city of Mianyang in Sichuan was designated a national innovation demonstration center for the industry, shouldering the responsibility for exploring new development routes. In 2017, the Fifth China (Mianyang) Science and Technology City International High-Tech Expo attracted 207 civil-military integration companies to participate. Contracts worth more than 110 billion yuan were signed at the event.
The first civil-military integration personnel exchange platform in China was launched in Mianyang on Sept 6, with the support of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and the Mianyang municipal government, paving the way for training industry professionals.
To meet the industry's financial needs, Mianyang has made great efforts in building up a comprehensive financial services system. It has set up five major support funds, totaling 5.45 billion yuan, to encourage the commercialization of civil-military integration-related achievements and industrial development.
Mianyang also established the first science and technology bank and insurance company in China, which has already provided more than 20 billion yuan in loans to the industry.
Thanks to those efforts, the number of technology-based small and medium-sized businesses in Mianyang has grown from 5,000 to 10,000 in the past two years.

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