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May 25, 2019

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Handing over the baton of science

TEN outstanding young innovators shared their futuristic visions, ideas and research results in different fields in a roundtable summit yesterday at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, which kicked off the three-day Pujiang Innovation Forum.

The forum, founded in 2008 by the city government and the Ministry of Science and Technology, takes innovation as its theme in line with national demands for an international vision.

It is dedicated to building a platform to exchange ideas and spread advanced concepts. It also facilitates cooperation among government departments, industry players and research institutes, and is a forum where new policies are released.

“Shanghai acts as a ‘living room’ where global technologies are gathered and innovative ideas are exchanged,” said Luo Dajing, deputy director of the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission. “And the forum is at the center of this living room.”

This year’s forum, with the theme of “New Vision and New Future of Science and Technology Innovation,” has four special sub-forums and 11 themed sub-forums.

Aiming to be a scientific and technological version of the Davos World Economic Forum, the Pujiang Innovation Forum is more international this year, with nearly 150 keynote speakers from 23 countries and regions. Researchers and scholars account for 46 percent, entrepreneurs 39 percent and the rest are government officials. One-third are foreign.

Big names include Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of the publishing company Springer Nature, owner of the world’s leading science journal, Nature; Nirav Shah, a scholar from Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center; Bernhard Mueller, a member of German Academy of Science and Engineering, and Ali Vahdat, chairman of Iran’s Innovation and Prosperity Fund.

Well on its way to become innovation center with global influence, Shanghai has created great ecosystem for innovators.

“Shanghai is specifically fantastic place for science,” said Jeffrey Erlich, assistant professor of neural and cognitive science at NYU Shanghai. “It’s clear that the government realizes how important science is for the future, for China and the world. So I think it’s good to be a scientist here, where people have a lot of respect for scientists.”

The 10 participants at the Science and Technology Innovation Roundtable Summit for Young Innovators are all aged below 45. The summit is designed to be a stage for the young generation’s power in science and technology innovation.

Young people and their ideas shine bright like gold, and it is vital to bring them together to create the city as an innovation center with global influence, said Xu Guanhua, chairman of the Pujiang Innovation Forum. “The forum is an important platform for young innovators to demonstrate innovation.”

Shanghai political adviser Li Yiping said: “We will build an ideal place for young talent, and welcome them to join us to build an innovation center here in Shanghai.”

Keynote speakers include artificial intelligence expert Jia Jiaya, acclaimed biologist Wan Ruixue, entrepreneur Da Shengwei and plant researcher Evangelos Tatsis.

They shared their views of the 10 leading industries and cutting-edge technologies that will reshape our world, such as artificial intelligence, life sciences and clean energy.

“I believe if the (Shanghai) government can provide great support for science and technology, emerging industries and basic industries,” said Jia, “it will attract many talent to flood in. From enterprises’ side, it’s not correct for them to take their employees as ones who only create productivity and value for them.”

“Young people need space for growth and the enterprises should provide them with more opportunities and ways to try different work in different fields to give them more room for learning,” said Benjamin Tee, a Singaporean scientist who helped develop electronic skin technology.

“I think what’s happening, not just across Asia but all over the world, is the general lack of appreciation for how scientists are changing society. We really need to start education, basically creating the passion, lighting up the fire in young children,” Tee said.

“Children don’t see science the way old people like me do, we need to create environment that is protective, conducive and encouraging. So, to nurture the young minds, we have to really think about how to do that,” he added.


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