Nanotechnology scene in China

There was a Dec. 5, 2012 Nanowerk Spotlight article by Michael Berger which focused on a review (Engineering Small Worlds in a Big Society: Assessing the Early Impacts of Nanotechnology in China [behind a paywall]) in a special issue of the Wiley journal, Policy Review. It seems timely given today’s (Dec. 10, 2012) earlier posting (Wanxiang America wins bid for most of A123 Systems’ assets) about a China-based company’s successful bid for a bankrupt US company that produced Li-ion (lithium-ion) batteries.

From Berger’s Dec. 5, 2012 article (Note: I have removed links),

A recent review (“Engineering Small Worlds in a Big Society: Assessing the Early Impacts of Nanotechnology in China”) analyzes the early impacts of nanotechnology on China’s economic and innovation development in six key areas. It concludes that the country’s effort to join the world leaders in nanoscale R&D has made significant progress. Although several effects are difficult to capture, cross-country and cross-regional collaborations, institutional development, regional spread, industrial and enterprise development, as well as research and education capabilities, have been influenced positively by the new programs in China’s nanotechnology initiative.

However, it seems difficult to estimate the role of particular policies in this process; in other words, what is the specific contribution of nanotechnology programs relative to the entire complex of new initiatives aimed at promoting indigenous innovation in China. The authors – Evgeny A. Klochikhin and Philip Shapira from the Manchester Institute for Innovation Research – find that nanotechnology policies are contributing to addressing existing innovation systems lock-ins and historical path dependencies in China.

In spite of that, many challenges remain, including those of separation of research and training, uneven distribution of science and technology across regions, poor mechanisms of technology transfer, and challenges for independent science-driven entrepreneurial development.

Berger’s article (illustrated with diagrams) lists six key areas assessed by Klochikhin and Shapira,

… [1] institutional development, knowledge flows, and network efficiency; [2] research and education capabilities; [3] industrial and enterprise growth; [4] regional spread; [5] cluster and network development; and [6] product innovation. They caution, though, that these areas do not cover the entire spectrum of the social and economic effects of a given technology on individual nations but can be used as a model for an initial estimate of such effects.

Berger’s and Klochikhin’s and Shapira’s articles come as no surprise given the intense interest in China. A Nov. 9, 2012 posting about the recent S.NET (Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging Technologies) 2012 conference highlighted a presentation by Denis Simon at a conference panel titled, Will China’s effort to become a high-tech innovator succeed? If you go to the conference presentations webpage and scroll down to the Weds., Oct. 24, 2012  9 am – 10:30 am slot, you can download one or all of the presentations from that session.

ETA Dec. 10, 2012 1330 PST: Philip Shapira has been mentioned here before, most recently in March 29, 2012 posting about nanotechnology’s economic impacts and lifecycle assessments.

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