At a glance: MOST issued a Five-Year Plan (FYP) for National High-Tech Industrial Development Zones (HIDZ). “Indigenous innovation”, technological self-reliance and supply-chain security feature prominently, as well as reducing carbon emissions. A broad range of high-tech sectors were prioritized, including artificial intelligence, quantum information, gene technology, future internet, hydrogen energy and energy storage. Key goals for 2025 include:
- Encourage firms in HIDZs to reach an R&D intensity of at least 7.8 percent, up from 6.8 percent in 2020
- Strengthen intellectual property rights creation in HIDZ so that 40 percent of China’s patents are granted to firms in the HIDZ, up from 34.2 percent in 2020
- Triple the total value of technology contracts from 2020 levels to reach CNY 2.5 trillion
- Establish roughly 220 HIDZ, up from 169 in 2020
MERICS comment: In 2021, HIDZs generated 13.4 percent of GDP. The plan seeks to expand on their significant role in China’s innovation ecosystem and improve links with other components and stakeholders, such as universities and research labs, incubators and financial markets, technology trade platforms, and other zones within the vicinity. To increase the concentration of patents registered in HIDZs, officials are expected to bolster services for patent appraisal, trade and protection, as well as increase support for protecting patents overseas. However, given the severe economic headwinds created by the Covid-19 pandemic, achieving continued growth in R&D intensity and a tripling of the value of technology contracts could be an uphill battle for policymakers.
Foreign firms feature in these goals, with the plan encouraging them to set up R&D centers in HIDZs and apply for Chinese research funding. The FYP also promotes international innovation trajectories, such as commercializing foreign research in China, and tasks zone management with providing an internally attractive business environment.
By themselves these measures (and related demo projects) are unlikely to change the lukewarm interest in HIDZs among European firms. However, this may change if MOST succeeds in gradually concentrating and intensifying innovation resources in these locations, including (foreign) talent.
Article: “14th Five-Year Plan for National High-Tech Industrial Development Zones (“十四五”国家高新技术产业开发区发展规划) (Link)
Issuing body: MOST
Date: November 9, 2022