The explosive growth of China’s R&D expenditure in the past 30 years is showing no sign of slowing, with government initiatives making up nearly 70% of such spending. China’s public investments in scientific and high-tech research implemented through national programs are embedded in a complex, geographically diverse and evolving institutional landscape. Five research programs managed by the central government have been established to fuel the progression of R&D from these institutions into industry, and from technical invention to adoption. Within these programs, specific funding allocations to each technology domain vary dramatically and are in great part determined by the current maturity and overall strategy for specific emerging technology in China. From future threats in thin-film solar and LEDs, to technology scouting opportunities in biotech and healthcare, this R&D funding ecosystem reveals connections between vast public research investment, corporate buy-in, and likely sources of Chinese innovation pivotal in driving the country’s future economic growth. Such an environment represents both technology scouting opportunity and competitive threat, the seeds of which are already sown.
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