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October 20, 2021

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Shanghai unveils guideline to boost basic research

Shanghai yesterday rolled out a guideline, comprising 20 measures, as intensified support for basic research with the aim of turning the city into a more influential global innovation hub.

According to the guideline, by 2025, the city’s spending on basic research will account for 12 percent of its total research and development expenditure.

In fact, government funding on basic research has been increasing steadily. From 2018 to 2020, the proportion has climbed from 7.8 percent to 10 percent, according to figures from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission.

Global scientific and technological innovation has entered an unprecedented period of intensive activity. Basic research breeds core technological breakthroughs, according to Chen Mingbo, deputy secretary general of the Shanghai municipal government.

Comparing innovation without original breakthrough as tree without roots, he said Shanghai is expected to build a solid basic research system, demonstrate its ability to lead original breakthroughs, and strengthen its role as an innovation engine to become an innovation hub with global influence.

The measures include expanding the talent pool, strengthening domestic and international cooperation and optimizing the research environment. A major highlight is a pioneering pilot program to set up basic research special zones.

Under the program, universities and research institutes with significant advantages in basic research will receive long-term stable funding to support research, and multiple funding channels will be established.

As one of the candidates, the Shanghai Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences plans to select and sponsor 10 groundbreaking research programs each year with 20 million yuan (US$3.13 million) in financial support from the city government. The programs will focus on key areas such as biomedicine, integrated circuits and aerospace.

According to the plan, the selected programs will be financially supported for at least five years and their work will be assessed based on their efforts rather than just the results. “Groundbreaking research entails high risk of failure,” Zhao Xiaolong, chief of the technology development division of the Shanghai Branch of CAS, said. “So, we will tolerate as long as they try their best, even if they fail to achieve targeted results.”


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