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Is China catching up to the United States in innovation? ITIF report holds that it is

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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is a nonprofit and nonpartisan research and educational institute and think tank whose mission is to help policymakers around the world assess and promote policy solutions that can boost innovation, productivity and growth. The ITIF’s influence is tremendous as testifies its world leading ranking of think tank for science and technology policy, and its many publications.

The ITIF issued an interesting report on the 8th April focused on the United State-China rivalry. Robert D. Atkinson and Caleb Foote, the two authors of this report, entitled “Is China Catching Up to the United States in Innovation? “, evaluated the progress of China regarding innovation compared to the US’, and highlighted how Chinese government’s goals and policies turned China from a copycat country to a world innovation leader.

To assess this shift, the report examines 36 indicators of China’s scientific and technological progress vis à vis the US between a decade ago and today. These 36 indicators are divided into seven sections, seen as key markers of a country’s health regarding innovation:

  • Innovation inputs (R&D, Venture Capital, etc…)
  • University Performance (BA, Master and Doctoral degrees earned, etc…)
  • Patents (number of patents filed internationally, etc…)
  • Outputs (number of scientific articles & patents, etc…)
  • Outcomes (entrepreneurial and Company performances, etc…)
  • Trade and Industry (manufacturing, goods, services, etc…)
  • Technology use (robot usage, broaband usage, etc…)

If China has been considered for a long time as being uniquely an industrial copier country unable to innovate, figures show that China has succeeded to become a country of innovation. After having reproduced the classical path of development taken by other Asian countries (transfer of foreign technologies, internal dissemination and assimilation of these technologies), the results highlight that in few years, China has been catching up the US in terms of innovation. All of the 36 indicators have improved between 2006 and 2016, China bridging the gap by a factor of 1.5 between the first year and the last year. For some of these indicators, China even succeeded in extending its lead over the US.

If the US is still carrying the mantle of innovation leadership, the positive dynamic of China regarding innovation is urging the US to rebuild a robust national innovation and competitiveness strategy, according to the conclusions of the report.

To know more about the report, please follow the link.