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Guidelines on functional platforms to promote research and commercialization of scientific achievements

Feb 5, 2018

The Shanghai Municipal Government held a press conference on January 18 on guidelines on functional platforms to promote research and commercialization of scientific achievements in the city. Following are the highlights:

Shou Ziqi, director, Shanghai Science and Technology Commission

Jin Weimin, deputy director, Shanghai Finance Bureau

Qiu Wenjin, deputy inspector, Shanghai Development and Reform Commission

Zhang Ying, chief engineer, Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology

Ma Xingfa, deputy director, Shanghai Science and Technology Commission

Shanghai Science And Technology: I have a question for the leaders of the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission. What kind of organizations do the “18 functional platforms refer to and how are they different from the existing professional bases and research and development platforms in Shanghai? Thank you.

Shou Ziqi: The 18 functional platforms are non-profit public research organizations. Their core functions will be beneficial to tackling major product problems in development, as well as providing industry-specific technological standards. Also, they will have capabilities such as commercializing technological research findings and subsequent development capabilities, and offer systematic solutions. Using industrial influence, the platforms will also be complementary to the Shanghai science and innovation center.

As for the relationships between the platforms and some laboratories and engineering centers and platforms, the 18 platforms will be more market-oriented in operation, and they will be invested through diversified investment entities. They will be public, non-profit platforms but managed as enterprises. Compared to the existing engineering centers and laboratories, the 18 platforms will be more segmented at the micro level, more comprehensive and larger in volume. Shanghai is endowed with advantages such as relatively complete disciplines with high quality in its universities. Such advantages need to be amassed and strengthened so that they are complementary and can interact with existing engineering platforms. As the 18 platforms are being built, they will incorporate the existing platforms gradually to better converge resources.

Jiefang Daily: Just now Director Shou talked about platforms, construction for which started in 2013; I would like to know about the construction progress? As of now, are there any successful cases of technological research and industry advancement? In the exploration of the financial fund there will be a “backsliding” mechanism, could you elaborate on it? Thank you.

Shou Ziqi: For your first question, let’s review the progress in the past decades. The reason why Shanghai is taking the leading position in life sciences in the world is largely due to a batch of platforms that were deployed decades ago. Back then, they were not called functional platforms but public service platforms, which was also the global trend. With the experience in life sciences, Shanghai started its exploration in information fields by building the Shanghai Industrial & Technology Research Institute. The construction of the institute had been planned in September 2012, and was operational in 2013, back then it was a totally new exploration. I would like to tell you that the institute has achieved a lot of global influential results in semi-conductor and sensory fields. The influence has been in three aspects, firstly, many important academic activities such as some international forums on the internet of things and sensory have been held in Shanghai; secondly, many related companies have sprouted in Jiading, and the platforms have begotten another batch of influential technologies and products such as six axis sensors; thirdly, through the platforms, we have set up cooperation with world-renowned organizations and institutes. We have to, first and foremost, improve ourselves to be a worthy partner, and with our past experience, we can now move unfalteringly towards our goal.

Also, we are deploying platforms in other fields. Prior to the 18 platforms, we had initiated six platforms; the Shanghai Industrial & Technology Research Institute being one of them. By building these platforms, we hope to advance technological research. The platforms will run on the principle that the operation will start when the platform matures. Based on the 18 platforms, next we will study the next batch of platforms on the trend of industrial development and the changes they might bring about.

Jin Weimin: Thanks for your question. The “backsliding” mechanism is a new attempt by the Shanghai Finance Bureau on functional platforms. In the initial stage of the platforms, when they are not self-sustainable, they depend on the financial support of the financial bureau. When the platforms reach maturity, the proportion of financial support to the platforms’ income will decrease incrementally. Through this policy we hope to create a sustainable and benign interaction between the platforms and social funds.

The mechanism was piloted at the Shanghai Industrial & Technological Institute and achieved good results. Now it will be trialed at other platforms as well. Also, we will pilot new ways of giving financial support and other measures, such as granting the platforms institutional aid, more autonomy with funds, and make the grant proportional to the platforms’ performance assessment.

The paper.cn: The platforms did play an important role in the construction of the science and innovation center. I would like to ask the leaders of the Shanghai Development & Reform Commission, what measures will be taken to support building a global influential science and innovation center. Thank you.

Qiu Wenjin: The research and functional platforms are an important part in the construction of the science and technology center, and a crucial support to link up the industrial chain and the innovation chain, and stimulate the city’s entrepreneurship. Next, we will work with the city’s Science and Technology Commission, Commission of Economy and Information Technology and Finance Bureau to make all-out efforts to achieve the goals set by the guidelines. We will carry out the efforts in three aspects:

The first aspect is to improve the construction of the technological ecology, further strengthen the linkage of technological innovations and policy innovations. In the process of building the functional platforms, we will explore overall innovation reforms, reward mechanisms such as stock-based incentive compensation, commercialization of scientific research results, and systems for the development of professionals. We will form a batch of copyable policies and mechanisms to promote across the country and further improve the entrepreneurship environment. Also, we will increase the linkage between innovative and entrepreneurial practice bases and functional platforms, promote the openness and sharing of entrepreneurial resources, reduce entrepreneurial costs, integrate the entrepreneurial chain and the industrial chain, support key strategic incubation projects from the functional platforms, and advance the upgrade and optimization of the industrial structure.

The second aspect is to deploy more platforms apart from the 18 functional platforms. We will keep strengthening the linkage between the Zhangjinag Comprehensive National Science Center and the platforms; functional platforms such as in the photonics field will be built, revolving around the scientific facilities. In addition, we will integrate the existing resources from the National Engineering Research Center, the National Engineering Laboratory and the National Enterprise Technology Center, and together with the related municipal departments set up many platforms with strong innovative abilities, new management systems, and wide range of services.

The third aspect is the increase of financial support. In line with the guidelines, the Shanghai Development & Reform Commission will strengthen its cooperation with the city’s Science and Technology Commission and Commission of Economy and Information Technology to stick to the principle that the operation will start when the platform matures, and use the financial aid for strategic emerging industries to support the construction of the functional platforms. On the foundation of the governmental financial aid, we’ll encourage the platforms to attract venture capital and social capital, and to explore the marketized and professional management mechanisms to boost the efficiency of capital use. Thank you.

Wenhui Daily: What positive effects do functional platforms have on transformation and development of the real economy? Which fields will benefit?

Zhang Ying: The functional platform construction is a key measure to promote real economy development, accelerate research and development of technologies and develop innovative enterprises. The Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology mainly focuses on functional platforms for emerging industries, including integrated circuit, intelligent manufacturing, industrial Internet and big data technologies.

With the support of other government departments, platforms of integrated circuit and intelligent manufacturing have already been launched. The former integrates research and development resources of integrated circuit and offers high-level verification services for key equipment and materials such as photo-etching machines and 12-inch silicon chips. The latter can further expand the supply of systematic solutions to intelligent manufacturing, and offer more standards and assessment methods for manufacturing techniques and domestic equipment.

Secondly, we have also developed schemes of platforms for industrial Internet and industrial security control. The industrial Internet platform integrates related resources from home and abroad, gets through the innovation chain from research, tests to promotion and builds the innovative ecosystem of the industrial Internet industry. The industrial control safety platform can promote the transformation of scientific achievements and demonstration application in key areas such as electric power, rail transit and automobiles, and further promote the healthy development of the city’s industrial information security industry through simulation security tests and establishment of a safety assessment environment.

Next, we will enhance the influence of functional platforms in industrial development according to the guidelines, strengthen the connection between the industrial chain and the innovation chain, actively explore new cooperative mode of industry, studies and research, and constantly improve the system of technological innovation. Meanwhile, we will build functional platforms in key areas such as civil aviation, industrial design, new display and artificial intelligence to support the development of key industries.

China News Agency: What fields will the functional platform construction focus on during “13th Five-Year” period? What are the principles and guidance for the functional platform construction?

Ma Xingfa: During the “13th Five-Year” period, we will focus on five advantageous fields – biomedicine, new material, new-generation information technology, advanced manufacturing and innovation and entrepreneurship – five major areas. We will make adjustments according to actual needs and investigation.

As for the principles and guidance, the first point is that these platforms serve both scientific research and industrial development; secondly, the platforms have the characteristics of both public and market services. Functional platforms are non-profitable and funded by the government; thirdly, we will focus on both institutional and technological innovations. Functional platforms led by the government take enterprise as the main body and are market-based operations. The fourth point is the combination of government guidance and social participation.

I have two examples. Firstly, Shanghai is relatively advantageous in the industrialization and research on life science. We need to accelerate the development of innovative platforms to maintain our advantage. Secondly, we need to build several advanced manufacturing functional platforms to promote rapid development of the city’s artificial intelligence and intelligent manufacturing industries.

CBN Daily: You mentioned introducing social capital in functional platform construction. Are there any requirements for this capital? Besides, does the “backsliding” mechanism mean quitting?

My third question is: in which aspects is the market-based operation of the functional platform demonstrated?

Ma Xingfa: There is no threshold for social funds invested in platform construction. We welcome the participation of various social capitals, both private and state-owned.

Jin Weimin: The “backsliding” mechanism does not mean quitting. The operation of platforms is funded by municipal and district governments. Supporting funds provided by the government will decrease gradually as the platforms see an increase in revenue. However, funds for research and development will not be cut.

Shou Ziqi: Platform construction will be led by the government. The construction will introduce social capital and welcome participation of different social powers to support the market-based operation. The platform will be operated on the basis of marketized mechanisms.

The “backsliding” mechanism does not refer to a complete withdrawal. A good platform provides valuable services to society and at the same time realizes its own value and has its achievements.

Shanghai Radio: We have noticed that the guidelines put forward high requirements for construction and operation of functional platforms. How will the talent team be built and what talent management policies will be implemented in the future?

Ma Xingfa: A functional platform offers non-profit services, which means that investors are not allowed to share profits. It will be guided by core demands of future industrial development and operated with a more flexible mechanism.

We have several considerations on functional platform construction. Firstly, we should build a high-level team by means of social recruitment and enterprise management. Related mechanisms will be developed to introduce the world’s most excellent talents. Secondly, we will promote resource sharing and collaboration between functional platforms and other institutes such as engineering centers and laboratories. Thirdly, we will enhance foreign cooperation with the support of the functional platforms.

Besides, we need to build and stabilize a team. Firstly, the platform needs to increase core talents through social recruitment and enterprise management. Secondly, talent flow between universities and scientific research institutes will be promoted by flexible cooperation modes such as temporary service and short-term ties. Thirdly, we will establish a talent rating guidance based on performance and achievements.